Thursday, 6 November 2008

wireless Ypsi

Beyond the users, beyond the technology, there is an important reason why this has been successful and one we are very mindful of when consulting and advising other communities that want to use our model. It is knowing the people in your community.

We could have done the traditional wireless model and pulled in our own Internet connections. We could have negotiated tower and light pole agreements with City Hall. We could have paid engineers thousands of dollars to do electromagnetic site surveys. But that would have taken months, even years, and it would have cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Between Brian and me, we had $1,200 we were willing to throw at this project. We came up with $1,200 as we figured each of us was willing to kick in $50 a month if we could get Internet access in our favorite downtown restaurants and pubs.

Moreover, because we have a high concentration of radios and multiple connections to the Internet, at any one point in time, there are likely just one or two people on any one connection. So the bandwidth use is minimal. And we can prove it by showing the customer the actual stats from Meraki.

However, some Internet Service Providers like Comcast Home and AT&T Residential service do not allow sharing of Internet connections. But downtown, there are businesses with business Internet service that cost as much as two or three times more per month and they don’t have the same restrictions. So yes, it is legal.

We have spoken to several representatives from AT&T of Michigan asking them to reconsider their terms of service limitation for residential customers. Brian and I are convinced that hundreds of people in Ypsilanti would switch from Comcast if AT&T Residential would allow sharing so they could put up a Wireless Ypsi radio. While nothing has happened yet, we are hopeful AT&T will consider this change.

A second important aspect of building support is for people to invest in your network. I am not talking about Angel investing or stockholders, I am talking about getting the local business owner to feel they have a stake in your success.

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