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Wifi for all!

Organized by: John Meadows

John's Photo
John's Photo


'Wifi have a dream' of an internet connection that is funded by the people that use it at cost. I have a dream of a wireless network that provides users internet access anywhere in the WAN to which they subscribe, and I have a dream of a network that uses volunteers and users to maintain this network.

I am a network engineer for a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP). Also I am a huge fan of individual community being able to provide for themselves. My idea would be a home grown effort to provide a connection of the people, by the people and for the people.

Mesh networks are not new. A lot of progress and ideas have been made using all types of equipment and protocols. I would like to put something out there along the lines of open mesh, but with the idea and ability to provide internet to more people with less need individual infrastructure. If you have a Wifi enabled device you can connect!

In my city I pay nearly $62 a month for an approximate 30Mbps service connection that sits idle most of the day. At my highest usage I am using less than 10Mbps (that about what you need to download files while surfing and watching a movie at the same time). Most providers know this, so they sell you higher rate plans that will never see 50% of the intended capacity. So why not take some of that bandwidth and put it to good use?

The network wouldn't provide a connection great enough for everyone to pull 10Mbps, but it would provide an internet connection for pennies on the dollar with the goal that everyone would be able to stream a video at the same time (12 users at 2.5Mbps).

Imagine a networks in a suburb or urban area where everyone in a community will be able to connect wherever they are in side of their coverage area.

Setups will be based on people in the area who choose to participate in the project. We will make videos on how to install and align the equipment, and end users will predominately be in charge of their access points. Persons not in the project will be permitted to connect to this network as well, but will first be prompted to donate, just to help out. Connections will be limited as the bandwidth will be shared across the network, and will depend on the number of total gateways that individuals would be willing to supply. But the potential is huge! Just ten people willing to host a gateway connection could provide a potential for 300Mbps to the network.

All the information for this project will be published so others can start projects just like it.

Here is where I need help.

Gateway setups will cost around around $1400. These connections will be hosted by individuals vested in the project who may (if they desire) receive compensation for the exact amount of service they provide. (They spend $70 for the connection they can receive a portion back, but their personal usage will be subtracted from the total)

This will include

1 Mikrotik GS250 gigabit switch ~$50
3 Ubiquity 2GHz sectors ~$300
1 Ubiquity 2GHz access point with Omnidirectional antenna ~$200
1 mast to mount to a roof of a house or building ~$20
5 cat 6 cables at varying lengths depending on setup ~$10-50

Mesh setups will feed from gateways. These will require less equipment and will be less expensive to operate.

This will include

1 Ubiquity Nanobeam pointed at a gateway (depending on the number of visible gateways) ~$100
1 Mikrotik GS240 gigabit switch ~50
1 Ubiquity 2GHz access point with Omnidirectional antenna ~$200

Regulations and restrictions will vary between markets, so I can not go into detail as to how or what will be possible in different areas. Some areas may not allow this at all. But I'm sure many areas, especially in median areas between urban and rural communities will be able to benefit from a project like this!

My proposal is that with your donation, we can buy equipment from Ubiquity and Mikrotik as the wireless backbone for this project and get it operating and funding itself within a year.


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John Meadows

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