Meraki’s FreeNet is Live …. almost

Who knows when San Francisco will get its city-wide Wi-Fi network, courtesy of Google and EarthLink. But I did get a chance to hop onto startup Meraki’s San Francisco network last weekend, that the company has dubbed Free the Net. The ad-hoc Wi-Fi network is already live in a few places in the city, using shared broadband connections and Meraki’s Wi-Fi repeaters that users place in their windows or on balconies.

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I checked out the network at the corner of Steiner and Page where there are two gateway nodes. The network coverage is pretty limited right now, with 61 users that have repeaters and 259 users that have signed up for repeaters, but the company plans to hand out 1,000 total.

Check out the speed test I did while on the network at Page and Steiner — a pretty strong signal. But also intersting is notice the broadband provider — SBC. Hmm, I had thought the startup was going to try to use sharing-friendly Speakeasy for many of its connections.

Update: A Meraki spokesperson just emailed us to say that the network rolled out so far has been done by volunteers who wanted to share their own connections. In the next couple of weeks the company says it will be replacing these connections with Speakeasy lines that Meraki is purchasing.

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