Feisty Start-up Plans to Bring Free Wireless to San Francisco

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Earlier this week, I posted about the Meraki Mini, a $49 device that the Sydney Morning Herald predicts will be one of 10 technologies to "change your life" in 2008.


The Meraki Mini is basically a repeater that you can plug in to extend your network. Put a bunch of them in close proximity, and they'll automatically form a mesh network. The article said the start-up selling the Meraki Mini - a company called, predictably enough, Meraki - wants to be the Robin Hood of connectivity.


Sounds like marketing, but it turns out, this feisty start-up is serious about providing connectivity to those who can't afford it. It's so serious, it's promised to cover San Francisco with free wireless service within the next year.


To do so, it will have to persuade residents to set up the repeaters in their homes and on rooftops, according to this Computerworld article. And the CEO predicts that will entail giving away 10,000 to 15,000 repeaters.


Not cheap, but certainly cheaper than the estimated $14 to 17 million the network was supposed to cost when EarthLink was going to build it.


Don't be too quick to scoff. Meraki is backed by Google and has raised an additional $20 million from venture capitalists, according to Sci-Tech Today.