Government allows us to do collectively what we cannot do individually. In the case of Municipal Broadband, local government takes a leading role in building high-speed, citywide networks that increase the affordability and availability of Internet access.
Some communities are organizing to reach this goal without local government involvement. Such projects often take the form of Wireless Community Networks, because wireless networks can be set up without using municipal rights-of-way or other municipal facilities.
These networks are more than just unprotected hot-spots, such as those found in neighborhood cafes or coming from your neighbor’s apartment. The organizations install wireless nodes to create networks that allow users to access community information and connect to one another, with or without a connection to the Internet.
We believe wired and wireless technologies are complimentary, not substitutes, and that communities ultimately need both. Fiber optic networks offer the most reliable and fastest speeds whereas wireless solves mobility needs. Investments in fiber-optic networks are long term investments, often lasting for many decades and forming a potential base for wireless solutions.
- The Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Wireless Community Networks project is using wireless networks to bring low-cost broadband connectivity to communities in Illinois. The use CUWiN’s free, open-source networking software (see above), and nodes built by volunteers.
- The Personal Telco Project has over 100 active wireless nodes in Portland, Oregon.
- Building Wireless Community Networks, Second Edition – by Rob Flickenger, available from O’Reilly Media.
- Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) – CUWiN offers free, open-source, wireless networking software, instructions for building your own wireless nodes, and sources for the hardware you’ll need.
- NoCat.Net offers resources for community wireless networks