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Free Wireless Network in San Francisco

Guest Tomica Divic

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Guest Tomica Divic

Meraki, the company that is pioneering new networking technologies to bring the next billion people online, announced today that it will deploy a next-generation, city-wide wireless access network in San Francisco that will provide free, broadband Internet access for every neighborhood in the city by the end of the year. The company also announced today Series B funding of $20 million from Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures, Northgate Capital and other existing investors.


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.”


Meraki will fund the entire cost for establishing the free network across the city, as part of an effort to showcase for other communities around the world how the company’s technology can allow the creation of city-wide access networks at a fraction of current costs. No public funds will be used to build this new Meraki wireless network in San Francisco.


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. To learn more about the “Free the Net” project, visit www.meraki.com


About Meraki

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. For more information, go to www.meraki.com

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Interesting. I wonder if Google found a workaround its partnership with Earthlink.




EarthLink® and Google® want to bring wireless broadband Internet access - Wi-Fi - to the people of San Francisco NOW. This network is one of the first of its kind in the nation, offering FREE broadband Internet access throughout San Francisco - plus affordable options for higher speeds and home connections.


Demonstrate Your Support

Contact the Board of Supervisors and urge them to support the EarthLink/Google Wi-Fi agreement. To contact your Supervisor, please email, call or send a letter of support.


Email: board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org

Call: (415) 554-5184

Address: Attn: San Francisco Supervisors

San Francisco City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Room 244

San Francisco, CA 94102-4689



Wi-Fi Agreement Highlights

Free Internet access to all residents, businesses and visitors to the City, at a speed of 300 kilobits per second (Kbps) helping to bring access to the approximately 30 percent of San Francisco residents who don't currently have access.


No financial commitment by the City, taxpayer burden, or risk for the design, deployment, operation, maintenance or support of the network


5% of the revenue (estimated to generate $300,000 per year, depending on paying subscriptions) will specifically go into the Digital Divide Fund to fund community training and new equipment


A three megabit per second (Mbps) symmetric (same upload and download speeds) premium service at a price of $21.95 per month for all residents and businesses. This is comparable to existing DSL services, plus it brings the added benefits of symmetric speeds and nomadic and mobile use


Up to 3,200 premium accounts (3 Mbps symmetric - same upload and download) at a price of $12.95 per month for low-income or disadvantaged families. This generates more than $300,000 in value per year for the community


A $600,000 nonrefundable prepayment fee for EarthLink to access the City's rights of way, payable after certain milestones are met


An estimated $100 per year for each City (PUC) owned streetlight pole used by EarthLink to mount its Wi-Fi communications equipment. This fee is approximately double the comparables paid in other major U.S. cities. Depending upon the number of poles required for this network, this could generate $150,000 each year

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