Neighborly thing to do.

Community networks help get people into their neighborhoods to meet each other and help each other participate.
That’s ultimately good for the city.

Extends the efforts of the city to provide Internet access. Much beyond attempts such as the terminals in the libraries.

• Some areas in San Francisco do not have access to DSL as they are in an area that isn’t served or are too far away from the Central Office. With the downturn in the economy, this problem will likely not be rectified in the near future by commercial interests.

Even if they can access the Internet, at $50 a month some folks will see food and rent as more of a priority over network access.

The BARWN (Bay Area Research Wireless Network) project drafted a number of requirements for wireless node routers. These brainstorm sessions led to the necessity of an outdoor weatherproof design. Additional specifications were added, such as access to the unit’s operating system and external antenna support. Few commercial products existed at the project conception time (mid 2001) to meet these demands.

Bored?
The project’s first hurdle was sourcing a motherboard that met a number of technical desires. “Must haves” included DC power input, PCMCIA or PCI interfaces, serial console, and limited extras (such as parallel port, onboard sound or VGA). SBC’s and PC104 boards were evaluated from local and foreign suppliers.

The Soekris Engineering net45xx product line was chosen for its attractive pricepoint (half of comparable boards), dimensions and local company headquarters. These advantages allowed us to begin testing the board immediately along with helpful suggestions from the board designer.

This relationship has also grown to a number of project member “day time” jobs utilizing Soekris products.

The Internet is actively being developed to limit individuals from contributing to the “content space” of the Internet. Much of the deployment of the Internet is owned and managed by content providers such as Time/Warner and Comcast.

Practically the only methods of broadband access to the Internet for small business and residential clients is through DSL or Cable Modem. Cable companies can limit the number of competitors to their cable modem service. This has been recently
challenged.

DSL broadband providers (ISPs) are at the mercy of the telephone companies that have the copper into the homes. I.e. SBC charges up to $40 per subscriber. This leaves a very slim, if any, gross profit margin. Very few providers can justify it.