26 thoughts on “Sonic.Net's SF ComMuniFi Plan”

  1. It’s not too much if your alternative is to not have connectivity.

    My big concern is the issue of who owns the network. If my neighbors start downloading Bittorrent movies over an open wireless network, do the DMCA takedown notices start coming to me or to Sonic.net? This isn’t a hypothetical question, since I already run an open wireless node via Sonic.net and my bonehead neighbors have actually triggered nastygrams for their unsanitary downloading habits.

    The revenue-sharing angle is another one I’d like more detail about, although I understand that part is an unwritten story at this point.

  2. Reminds me of similar services launched in india in late nineties to offer free internet. Download their browser (which had an ad bar) and u can surf the net for free ( u paid for the dialup costs).

    Again in countries like india which have strict laws for accessing internet from public machines at cyber cafes open wireless is gonna raise quite a few questions.

    Interesting space ubiquitous wifi access wud be quite cool to have. In 10 yrs india has seen all cities covered with mobile networks no reason y we can’t have wifi everywhere in another 10.

  3. Jeffery

    thanks for bringing up this point. I was trying to install the meraki router today and for now I have decided to make it private. I am going to check with the Meraki folks and get a clear answer from them about this issue.

    Meanwhile, you can throttle the bandwidth down to about 250-500 kilobits per second. enough for VoIP calls and email and browsing, if nothing else.

  4. Dane Jasper with Sonic.net here. A couple points:

    We’re doing this independently, using equipment from Meraki. Meraki and Google have an ad partnership, and any revenues that flow from that will be split with our customers.

    Sonic.net serves roughly 22,000 retail DSL customers today, most in the Bay Area. If this platform works well in SF, we will likely expand to other areas. Notably, in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, we have existing poletop usage relationships, so broader coverage is possible in those areas.

    To the point about abuse – because we know our customers are hosting a Meraki, and we can determine that the abuse is coming from the WiFi, we can skip bugging the customer at all, and go straight to logs of usage on the WiFi. Blacklisting abusers is possible.


  5. I think there are a lot more technical hurdles to getting quality wi-fi in urban areas than people realize. It’s one thing to have it driving down the street, but another thing to have it inside buildings.

  6. If you are a private concern, servicing individual communities makes a lot more sense than trying to cover the whole municipality. This may be a step backwards in the whole desire to address the digital divide, though. The whole reason certain areas have no broadband is because there is still no viable all-commercial business model for them. The take away for politicians is that there is no free lunch. If you think addressing the digital divide is important, you need to be prepared to spend the tax payers money to make it happen.

  7. “It’s one thing to have it driving down the street, but another thing to have it inside buildings.”

    This is one of the cool things about the Meraki platform. If there are coverage issues, end-users can get what basically amounts to a CPE solution, another Meraki Mini which is enrolled in the network, and placed at the front of the building, where it can “see” the outdoors. That’ll repeat the signal in the home or business, and provide an Ethernet jack.


  8. Well if the government isn’t yet able to implement the free wireless internet thing all over the city of San Francisco, then it seems to me like this is the next best thing. ComMunifi sounds pretty awesome to me. I only wish they’d implement similar features in other major cities.

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