January 4, 2008 By News Report
Meraki's "Free the Net" program, which was launched last year in San Francisco in select neighborhoods and exploded to serve over 40,000 users, will serve as the springboard for the city-wide program.
Meraki's unique technology creates a wireless network by combining signals from hundreds or thousands of low-power radio repeaters installed on rooftops, balconies and windows, extending WiFi access to city residents in their homes and businesses. Through communication with Meraki central servers and intelligence worked into every repeater, each point in the network is automatically optimized for speed and performance without any maintenance required of users. In the first two square miles of the project in San Francisco, the network identified and worked around more than 20,000 sources of interference and allowed Meraki to deliver almost 1Mbps of access to every user.
The backbone of the San Francisco network will be built using hundreds of small solar-powered distribution points, installed on residential and commercial rooftops -- enabling quick installation and reliable operation. As the network extends into new neighborhoods, Meraki will offer San Francisco residents free repeaters that will bring a high-speed, broadband signal into their homes while strengthening the network and providing coverage to neighbors. A repeater is not required to receive wireless access, residents may simply hop on the free network provided by repeaters throughout the neighborhood.
"This groundbreaking network in San Francisco will show the world that with Meraki's unique approach to building networks, we can quickly bring broadband Internet access to every city in the world," said Sanjit Biswas, CEO and co-founder of Meraki. "By expanding our San Francisco network we are creating the largest real-world test network of its kind, where we plan to develop new wireless networking technologies and also test the economics of free, ad-supported Internet access."
The company expects to have every neighborhood up and running by mid-year, and will be providing free wireless repeaters to residents on an ongoing basis as the network enters new neighborhoods of the city.
Meraki began in 2006, from a Ph.D. research project at MIT, with the intent of helping bring affordable access to people around the world. Starting with a single network which covered Cambridge, Massachusetts, the technology quickly spread into 100 countries around the world in less than a year. Today, Meraki networks are being built in thousands of locations around the world, connecting people everywhere from San Francisco to villages in India. Meraki is funded in part by Sequoia Capital and Google. To learn more about the "Free the Net" project, visit http://www.meraki.com
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.