Meraki Networks Aims to Bring WiFi to the Masses, Starting in San Francisco

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Meraki Networks Aims to Bring WiFi to the Masses, Starting in San Francisco

Meraki Networks—a Mountain View, California-based provider of wireless networking devices—is on a mission: bring WiFi to the masses. Or, as the company put its, “to bring affordable Internet access to the next billion people.”
How’s the company intend to do that? By making available what it calls “the first consumer wireless mesh Internet network designed to ‘unwire the world.’” First stop, San Francisco.
Meraki today announced that, during the next several weeks, it will be working with official in San Francisco to deploy a WiFi mesh network that’ll provide free access to 15,000 residents.
Okay, let’s back up here a little. What exactly is a mesh WiFi network? According to a definition provided on, mesh WiFi is kind of like a high-tech version of the old bucket brigade: “A wireless mesh network is a mesh network created through the connection of wireless access points installed at each network user's locale. Each network user is also a provider, forwarding data to the next node. The networking infrastructure is decentralized and simplified because each node need only transmit as far as the next node.”
Meraki Mini WiFi Access PointMeraki Mini Outdoors WiFi Access PointMeraki makes just such nodes. Its product page lists two devices: the $49 Meraki Mini (wireless access point and repeater) and the $99 Meraki Mini Outdoors (weatherproof version of the regular Mini). A free, Web-based toolbox (Dashboard) lets you set up and manage your mesh network from anywhere.
 In terms of global impact, Meraki is a pretty small player (currently there are about 15,000 Meraki product users spread out over 25 countries, which amounts to an average of 600 users per country)—but it’s dreaming big.
Map of Meraki WiFi Network in San Francisco“We want to bring Internet access to the next billion people in the world,” said Biswas. "Wireless networks offer the best opportunity we have to connect the rest of this country and the rest of the world to the Internet and our mesh technology is offering an inexpensive and easy way to do it,” said Meraki founder and CEO, Sanjit Biswas, in a statement.
The mesh network Meraki is setting up in San Francisco will use outdoor wireless routers to cover an area from Mission Delores Park through Castro and Duboce Park neighborhoods to Alamo Square Park. (The map image shown here of this area is courtesy of Meraki.)
“This is really a community project, and we are excited to work with individuals, families and businesses in this neighborhood to build out the availability of free access,” said Sanjit Biswas. “Our goal with this project is to bring free Internet access into homes across this neighborhood and into surrounding areas.”

If you live in San Francisco, within the area Meraki is covering, do let me know how this all works out, okay?

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I'm the coordinator for a community wireless network in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX area called DFWFreeNet that is deploying Meraki hardware. DFWFreeNet is similar to Merkai's "Free the Net" effort in San Francisco in that it is a community driven network that needs individuals, business owners, property owners, etc. that are interested in community wireless to contribute by hosting a Meraki Mini repeater. More information about DFWFreeNet can be found on our website at