dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
Meraki: A Cheap Last Mile Solution
Now solar powered....
by Karl Bode 06:30PM Tuesday Aug 07 2007
Scientific American is the latest to profile Meraki, a Mountain View, California, startup that says they plan to cure the infamous last mile dilemma on the cheap with Wi-Fi hardware and software based on MIT’s Roofnet project.

Click for full size
The company's $49 "Meraki Mini" features a Wi-Fi router-on-a-chip, and can be used to improve existing mesh networks -- like, say the signal strength-challenged Google network just down the road (they received seed money from Google).
quote:
"As long as each Mini can "see" at least one other Mini (they have to be within 100 feet of one another indoors or within 700 feet in areas where the signal is not impeded by walls or buildings), the network will self-configure. Minis that are actually plugged into the Internet act as routers; the ones that are not act as repeaters, retransmitting the signal of router Minis."
Click for full size
The company says Meraki gear is being used by some 45,000 users in 35 countries, who collectively operate 1,000 networks. Part of Meraki's plan is to allow people to become "Micro" service providers in regions where cost is an issue, or where broadband connections are scarce.

The company recently announced a $99 solar powered weatherproof wireless router and repeater with a range of 400-700 feet. "Paired with Meraki’s existing indoor $49 Mini, the Meraki Outdoor repeater can power access for dozens of households sharing one high speed connection," says the company.

view:
topics flat nest 
Ancalagon

join:2007-06-16
Sarasota, FL

Interesting idea

If it works, great...but I can't imagine there wouldn't be significant signal degradation from daisy-chaining a bunch of wireless routers/repeaters.

John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:5

Re: Interesting idea

said by Ancalagon:

If it works, great...but I can't imagine there wouldn't be significant signal degradation from daisy-chaining a bunch of wireless routers/repeaters.
Actually, the term you are looking for is "throughput" rather than "signal" degradation.

But yes, that is true. This effect is well-known with mesh systems, especially those that use a single frequency.
--
A is A

wifi4milez
Big Russ, 1918 to 2008. Rest in Peace

join:2004-08-07
New York, NY

Re: Interesting idea

I have experienced this firsthand. If I am not mistaken, each "hop" without an internet connection halves the available throughput. After the third or forth "hop" this system will be slowed to a dial up crawl. The self configuration of the units does seem pretty cool however, and it certainly would make setting up small networks easier for those less technically inclined.
--
!
KSC5190

join:2002-03-14
Chicago, IL
The meraki units work extremely well for their intended use: Cheap, straightforward internet access. They aren't designed to replace private wifi networks, in this arena they rate rather poorly. I purchased a few of these a couple of months ago and I've had very few issues. Limit the hops to 3-4 between gateways and you're sailing smooth.

gatorkram
Need for Speed
Premium
join:2002-07-22
Winterville, NC
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

An idea...

Who's time has come.... Except who needs the internet? I've always said, one day, wireless would become the platform for what used to be called a BBS...

Everyone runs their own servers, or sites if you will, and everyone in town is linked to this localized network..

This sounds like it would be a great backbone for such a system. And guess what.... In time, "internet providers" would pay US the end users, to access OUR network...

Mark my words, this is the future...
--
Give me bandwidth or give me death!

Michieru2
zzz zzz zzz
Premium
join:2005-01-28
Miami, FL

!

I can already see the feds breaking down your door for downloading kiddie porn because you where acting as a router to the mesh network.

Your excuse?

But but! I am on a public mesh network!

Yeah Yeah! Sure you are you pedophile.
--
Duct tape, saving lives since 1942.
averagedude

join:2002-01-30
San Diego, CA

Re: !

I was thinking something similar.

Without ISP protections, that would mean you (as an individual) would be required to keep records of all use for the department of homeland security, and provide a back door for them.

DaneJasper
Sonic.Net
Premium,VIP
join:2001-08-20
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:9

Re: !

said by averagedude:

I was thinking something similar.

Without ISP protections, that would mean you (as an individual) would be required to keep records of all use for the department of homeland security, and provide a back door for them.
If your ISP knew you were running a Meraki - in fact, if they sold it to you - they would know that use from that IP might not be you. They could, in fact, determine what MAC address was connected at the time the subpoena states. They could NOT give the law enforcement YOUR info, but instead whatever info they had on the person who used the Meraki.

Hmm - wonder if any ISPs are headed in this direction...

-Dane

hayabusa3303
Over 200 mph
Premium
join:2005-06-29
kudos:1
You could use opendns and block adult websites.

For blocking that stuff i dont know if you can you should.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY

Hmm..

An interesting idea.. Does this mean no access @ night?
I'm guessing an a/c and/or battery backup are part of this setup otherwise its lights out for this idea.
KSC5190

join:2002-03-14
Chicago, IL

Re: Hmm..

The solar powered units are one of 4 offered configurations. Most of the units support POE (Power Over Ethernet)at up to 150 feet from the source. The non-solar outdoor unit can use POE or an outlet. The standard unit is designed to be used indoors anyway so it works from a standard wall outlet but also has the POE option. The only unit that does not support POE is the repeater unit sold by netequality.
jlsjrf29

join:2002-05-12
San Jose, CA

I have these deployed in my area

they work great with some modifications, they still have some bugs that need to be worked out. On a scale of 1-10 and 10 being the best I would rate these a 7. Tech support via email takes over a week to get a super lame response as if we havent already tried the solution they are suggestion and to get a secondary reply you might as well forget it. There is very little control on radio settings and thats the down fall. But overall its a great line up. I plan on purchasing there solar unit when it becomes available.

Sircolby45

join:2005-11-26

400-700 feet is not enough....

Eh...Am I the only one that thinks a 400-700 feet range is nowhere even close to the range needed to get the last mile? It needs to be a mile+ minimum. Maybe even more than that. 700 feet is not a very long ways.
--
Wildblue Pro Pack / Beam 40 / Laredo NOC / Windows Vista Home Premium
bmn
? ? ?
Premium,ExMod 2003-06
join:2001-03-15
hiatus

Re: 400-700 feet is not enough....

The 700ft number is for device deployed with omni antennas. With a directional antenna, you can actually get over a mile according to their specs.

OF course, with the area covered being limited to 700ft, there is an advantage. Better coverage. You will have more access points covering a given area, meaning that you should always be within range of one. And at the $99 price point, a $10000 capital outlay would cover a good sized area.
--
Prove it...
Save the Internet Time (NTP) service, use the pool.
joelbarrett

join:2007-01-30
Norcross, GA

Re: 400-700 feet is not enough....

Mesh networks aren't typically limited by the range of the mesh APs. They're more limited by the range of the clients, unless you're just talking about backhaul ranges between the APs.

Typically, the purpose of a mesh network is to provide Internet or private network access to wireless clients. If the clients can't connect, it won't matter what the range is of the APs. Wi-Fi requires connectivity on both sides of the connection. If one side can't provide a decent connection, neither side is going to do much in the way of communication.

That being said, it's important for mesh APs to be able to communicate, but not at the expense of stranding the clients. Most embedded-antenna Wi-Fi clients (like you'd find in a laptop) are going to have problems maintaining connections past 150 feet or so, especially inside a building.

Joel

MalibuMaxx
Premium
join:2007-02-06
Chesterton, IN
Not to mention a good amp and a good outdoor wi-fi antenna (from what I heard) can go about but not quite a half a mile... Also If you got a extra satillite antenna lying around you could get great signals from miles away by converting it into a directional antenna.

KA3SGM
- -... ...- -
Premium
join:2006-01-17
West Chester, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Cricket Broadband
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit

MERAKI's Need Distance

I already have a Meraki 'Test' network up with 8 separate nodes in a single 2400' single family home. Also running the dual SID beta software which provides a NO/WEP network, and a WPA encrypted network, over the same nodes, and the beta software that firewalls your home 'donor' network from the WiFi world.

I have already found that too many nodes too close together interfere with each other, and am enlisting neighbors to spread the Meraki network farther away from the in house gateway nodes....

Karl, thanks for your story on this subject, I will let you know how it goes when when I try to go Muni-WiFi with it all.
--
We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat !!

MadDog3057
Ex Astris, Scientia
Premium
join:2002-02-26
Miami, FL

So...

except from the solar powered access point, how is this company different from FON?
bmn
? ? ?
Premium,ExMod 2003-06
join:2001-03-15
hiatus

Re: So...

said by MadDog3057:

except from the solar powered access point, how is this company different from FON?
It is different from FON because a person wanting to start a small WISP would be able to do it for a reasonable price. Nothing would stop a muni operation or a starter WISP from using this technology and having it attached to something like a DS3 and running a full blown operation.
--
Prove it...
Save the Internet Time (NTP) service, use the pool.

DaneJasper
Sonic.Net
Premium,VIP
join:2001-08-20
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:9
said by MadDog3057:

except from the solar powered access point, how is this company different from FON?
It's the mesh, man.

-Dane