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How free wireless works

By Leslie Young Read the main story about Free the Net Vancouver Fred Blog buys Internet access at home from…

By Leslie Young , in Technology , on October 25, 2007

By Leslie Young

A UBC student enjoying wireless outdoors.

Read the main story about Free the Net Vancouver

Fred Blog buys Internet access at home from Telus, for $35.95 a month. Fred hears about Free the Net from a friend and, thinking it’s a great idea, decides he wants to get on board. So, Fred pays Free the Net $60 for a Meraki Mini – a little antenna about the size of a deck of cards. Free the Net configures the device for him, and he takes home his little box.

When he gets home, he plugs in the device’s power cable, and plugs in an Ethernet cable that attaches to his home router and hooks the device to his Telus service. The device powers on and connects itself to the Free the Net network. A blip shows up on the Free the Net map, and now anyone within range of the device – inside a radius of about 150 feet – can connect to the Internet through the Free the Net network.

Cost to Fred: $60 for the Meraki Mini, plus $35.95 a month for his personal connection.
Benefits to Fred: Provides a public service, gets to enjoy a cool new technology

Wireless Internet Networks in Canada (a selection)

Vancouver – Free the Net Vancouver
Montreal – Île sans fil
Fredericton – Fred-eZone
Quebec City – ZAP Québec
Toronto – Wireless Toronto
Ottawa-Gatineau – Ottawa-Gatineau WiFi (ogWiFi)

For a detailed look at Canadian WiFi programs and why municipality-led projects might fail, read the report “Going Wi-Fi in Canada: Municipal and community initiatives” by Alison Powell and Leslie Regan Shade of Concordia University.

To see how wireless internet networks have been used in the developing world, read this press release from USAID that describes the American-funded program to provide wireless internet access to Macedonia.

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