Award #24: PittMesh

PittMeshTwo years ago, Meta Mesh founder Adam Longwill wanted to make a private Wi-Fi connection to his friends’ houses. After testing various antenna designs and routing technologies for a year, he decided not to limit his network to just his friends. He recruited a team on-line, and one year ago, founded his company, Meta Mesh, LLC, to build a free, public wireless network. One month ago, he became a Certified Wireless Network Administrator. Today, Awesome Pittsburgh is backing this awesome idea.

Adam’s idea has grown into a project to build a city-wide wireless mesh network, called PittMesh, wherein each access point is independently owned so that there is no single point of failure or control.  Anyone with a wireless-enabled device can connect to the network and anyone with a compatible wireless router will be able to expand the network. His team designed the PittMesh so that anyone can join by buying and configuring inexpensive, commercially available Wi-Fi hardware.

A mesh network eliminates the centralized middleman of a traditional Internet Service Provider (ISP). Instead of traffic going through a series of Internet routers potentially hundreds of miles away, a mesh network’s traffic is routed by the shortest and fastest possible path locally.  By eschewing a traditional ISP, users can enjoy the benefits of more secure privacy and of low-cost connectivity within a geographic area. Members of the PittMesh Network will gain access to all the local resources and anonymity that an “off-the-grid” network affords, while simultaneously expanding the network even further.

Adam provides background:

“This is a novel but not new method of networking. Mesh networking has the potential to change the way we communicate within a geographic area, to disrupt ISP monopolies, and to solve the networking privacy issues that have recently come to light. The solution is low-cost, low-maintenance, community-owned wireless routers placed throughout neighborhoods.”

Says Awesome Trustee Mike Capsambelis,

“We are excited to help Meta Mesh pilot a wireless mesh network in Pittsburgh. We were impressed by the technical elegance of their approach — a distributed, intelligent wireless network with no single point of failure — and by the fact that it shifts the power of connectivity from corporations to the community. We’d love to see this spread through neighborhoods throughout the city and offer people a true alternative to traditional Internet providers.”

Awesome Pittsburgh’s $1,000 grant will enable the purchase of necessary routers and antennas.  While the project is in early stages, there are ways to become involved now. Meta Mesh has produced a short video about PittMesh which concisely explains the basic principles behind the project.  Currently, interested parties can contact Adam directly to donate or volunteer to be a wireless node host in the South Side. Meta Mesh will provide and install a free wireless router.

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