Meta Mesh is building a wireless mesh network in Pittsburgh. On this network there will be resources like those one would find on the Internet- except no ISP is needed to reach them. It is a free-as-in-beer, encrypted, quality-of-service-enforced wireless network that anyone with an off-the-shelf wireless router may join and benefit from.
Here's an analogy for our project: The way the Internet works now is that you pay a big company to loan you mailbox that they come and install in your house and any time you want to send a letter, the envelope is sent to a single, massive, central routing station, is flipped through a bunch of chutes and travels all over the country to land at its intended destination- even if that destination is the house next to yours.
In a mesh network, you independently own a mailbox that you can set up with instructions provided by Meta Mesh. When you send a letter, the envelope slides down the mail chute to the corner of your block where a kindly post-officer looks at the address, realizes it's going to your neighbor, puts it in the neighbor's chute and it arrives at his house without ever even crossing the street.
This is a novel but not new method of networking. Instead of relying on huge, centralized repositories for routing information to every Internet-accessible network, a mesh network uses individual routers to store little pieces of routing information of a far larger network. Instead of big routing stations that, if damaged or lose power, would cause much of the network to stop working, there are many little overlapping coverage areas making failure for the entire network much more difficult. Mesh networking has the potential to change the way we communicate within a geographic area, to disrupt ISP monopolies' stranglehold on our ability to communicate, and to solve the networking privacy issues that have recently come to light. The solution is low-cost, low-maintenance wireless routers placed throughout neighborhoods.
Funded by Pittsburgh, PA (September 2013)