There are probably more mesh Wi-Fi networks operating in the U.S. than most of us realize. They require only one hard-wired connection to the Internet and there are many industrious, tech minded people out there who have the skills to set up this self-healing technology, though they are still working out the kinks.
A mesh network allows devices to engage each other without going through a central point. If I want to use my cell phone to call the cell phone of someone standing 10 feet away from me, the signal may travel thousands of times farther than it would have to because a cell phone company wants to track minutes, collect data, and more. In a mesh network, the two devices would just talk to each other without intermediation.
A recent Technical.ly article, explores a dozen communities that are using the technology to serve local residents.
The article provides some basic info on these local mesh networks:
- Redhook Wifi, Brooklyn
- Bamboowifi, Philadelphia
- SMesh, Baltimore
- Meta Mesh, Pittsburgh
- Digital Stewards, Detroit
- NYCWireless, New York City
- Personal Telco, Portland, Oregon
- MileMesh, Hoboken, N.J.
- Wasabinet, St. Louis
- TFA Wireless, Houston
- Meshnet Project, Seattle
- La Canada Wireless Association (LCWA, Santa Fe)
We have reported on mesh networks in Poulsbo, Washington, and Ponca City, Oklahoma. An attractive feature for those communities was the ability to expand the network as needed with modest investment. As Technical.ly reports:
Mesh networks help people stay connected while avoiding traditional internet providers. Motivation around the country for creating community mesh networks ranges from a desire for social justice, improved information access during natural disasters or just the need to experiment.