Really Plug and play WiFi


wallplug.pngNetequality, a Portland, Oregon-based not-for-profit organization that provides free internet access for low-income communities has hacked together a plug-n-play version of Meraki’s wireless mesh router, that can be plugged right into a power socket, for easy set-up. The wall-plug version is simply a Meraki Mini in a different case – it uses the Meraki Mini PCB – but optimized for ease of use and for easier installation in apartments and other unsecure public locations.

The device that is sold for $79 just went on sale, says Michael Burmeister-Brown, one of the two co-founders of NetEquality. A serial entreprenuer who has sold some of his previous start-ups to the likes of Symantec and Yahoo, says that idea behind the Meraki Mini Repeater in a Wall Plug Enclosure is to ensure an easy set-up, and take away some of the complexity that is typically associated with Wi-Fi. “We are ensuring that the whole thing is pretty simple.”

Burmeister-Brown, who spent nearly five years at Yahoo explains that in low income communities, a single DSL connection can be plugged into a Meraki router, and then one wall plug unit is needed every four homes. At present Netequality has built and deployed networks in six communities, with 6-to-150 units.

Meraki, is a Mountain View, Calif.-based mesh router maker that is backed by Sequoia Capital and Google. The company has developed an ultra lowcost wifi mesh networking router and is currently rolling out a square mile wide test network in San Francisco. (Our previous Meraki coverage.)

While the wall plug hack is unofficial, Burmeister-Brown told us that the folks at Meraki are aware of their twist on the basic Meraki router. In an email, Burmeister-Brown wrote:

we are very close to Meraki – we placed an order for 2,000 originally to help launch the company and we are authorized resellers (see their partners page). I have been working with Sanjit [Biswas, CEO of Meraki] since long before Meraki on the roofnet project while he was at MIT…..

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