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Our Proposal to the 2012 Wireless Summit in Barcelona

on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 3:00pm


We've sent off our proposal to this year's International Summit for Community Wireless Networks (IS4CWN) being held in October in sunny Barcelona, Spain.  It's a case study in urban meshes:

Founded in 2009, WasabiNet is a viable, neighborhood-scale Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP), in a multi-ethnic, mixed income, urban corridor of St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Our niche centers on serving lower and middle income residents and small businesses who could not otherwise afford Broadband Internet, college-aged students, and individuals who move frequently.

WasabiNet connects over 100 people daily via an intelligent cloud of 70 mesh wifi access points that distribute Internet service, both paid and free, to residents and small businesses in St. Louis. Leveraging innovations such as the OLSR algorithm, DIY know-how inspired by MAKE Magazine, low-cost equipment from Ubiquiti Networks, and open source firmware such as OpenWRT and Commotion Wireless, WasabiNet deploys a layered mesh topology that balances spectrum usage versus user density, to achieve a remarkable degree of flexibility in reaching its user base. Furthermore, the extreme configurability of the OpenWRT firmware allows us to define (and redefine) multiple tiers of service speeds, to better adapt to customer demand.

Ben West and Minerva Lopez, the founders of WasabiNet, built this WISP from the bottom up. In effect, we chose a very low $10/month price point for Internet service, and then sought out the style of infrastructure that enables. Thanks to a highly programmable network topology which can expand or contract bit by bit in piecemeal fashion, but which can also enjoy upgrades and usability improvements mesh-wide at once, we have sustained the mesh from its own revenue, despite a fluctuating user base and difficult economic climate.

Fingers crosses that we get accepted!

For further reading, you can check out Ben's notes from his attendance and presentation at the 2010 conference held in Vienna Austria: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

To set the Wayback Machine even further back, you can read about this same Wireless Summit when it was held right here in St. Louis in 2006: Here, and Here.