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[liberationtech] Mesh Networks?

Steve Weis steveweis at
Fri Jun 17 12:26:46 PDT 2011

My experience using MIT's roofnet mesh network was generally poor. They had
about 100 nodes around Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here's an old snapshot of
geographic coverage and connectivity:

The roofnet team went on to found Meraki and tried to build community WiFi
in San Francisco:
had 800 Wifi hotspots around the city. I never personally used one, but you
used to see their "Free the net" networks everywhere. As of 2009, they
stopped expanding their network. I don't know what happened to it, but
didn't see any mention on their website anymore. I think they have shifted
away from mesh networking to focus on network management products.

Portland had a similar network to roofnet called NetEquality. It doesn't
look like they even have a webpage anymore. OLPC XS was supposed to use mesh
networking: That also went nowhere.

I think WiFi-based mesh networking is difficult because you need many nodes
to cover even a small geographic area. It also needs enough egress bandwidth
to support regular usage and a means of preventing someone from swamping the
network. None of these examples were unauthorized. They would have been
trivial to corrupt or disable by someone motivated to shut them down.

I don't know if this is relevant to OpenMesh. They are asking for "high end
wirelesss engineers that understand how to change firmware for wireless
devices". That could mean a lot of things.

On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 8:06 AM, Yosem Companys <companys at>wrote:

> What do you all think?  Will mesh networks work?
> Shervin Pishevar is a really smart guy, so if anyone can help organize this
> effectively, it is he.
> But mesh nets have been around for a while and never taken off, so just
> wondering what the technical hurdles are.
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