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Meraki Annoys Partners, Customers
New three-tier pricing plan dropped on user heads...
by Karl Bode 01:30PM Monday Oct 08 2007
Several Meraki customers and industry insiders have e-mailed us to note that last-mile wireless hardware vendor Meraki isn't exactly making friends with some recent business changes. Meraki, a Mountain View, California, startup, said they they wanted to cure the infamous last-mile dilemma on the cheap with Wi-Fi hardware and software based on MIT’s Roofnet project. Last week, they quietly and drastically raised prices while cordoning off features behind pay tiers.

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Meraki previously offered robustly featured indoor and outdoor nodes (which act as routers or repeaters) for $50 and $100. The plan was to allow people to become "micro" service providers in regions where cost is an issue or where broadband connections are scarce. The gear quickly appealed to everyone from low-income housing to ISPs looking to add Wi-Fi functionality.

However, without warning, Meraki late last week unveiled a new three-tier pricing system that jacks up the price of hardware as much as three times for some users. The move bumps some of the functionality users were getting on the cheap (user authentication, billing) into higher tiers. That's obviously annoying users in the Meraki forums who say they've been blindsided by the changes. The new tiers as outlined by the company's FAQ:
quote:
Standard: For individuals and community organizations interested in setting up free networks
Pro: For property owners and small operators who wish to use our billing suite, setup closed networks, or require enhanced support
Carrier: For service providers interested in large-scale deployments that integrate Meraki into existing subscriber management systems
One Meraki client tells us that not only are they charging more and cordoning off functionality, they're also now forcing ads on all hardware users and keeping that revenue for themselves. "They've even forced the SSID, 'Free the net' on everyone," says one annoyed customer.

While Meraki's gear left beta last February, their billing systems only recently left beta -- and the company apparently decided there was significantly more cash to be made. That's a tough pill to swallow for a number of individuals and outfits that had already purchased gear, planned networks and pitched said plans to local apartment complexes, towns, customers or partners.

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DaSneaky1D
what's up
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-29
The Lou

How can they fit pants?

'Cause this move takes some large ones!

In related news: Used Car Salesmen, ambulance chasing lawyers and OJ all agree...."that's dirty!"
--
:: my trivial ramblings ::

S_engineer
Premium
join:2007-05-16
Chicago, IL

Re: How can they fit pants?

I would have loved to see the business model for this one. On the other hand, they obviously won't be around long enough for a second mention on BBR, hopefully!
--
Burn a tire, but make sure you buy that carbon offset!

djm61
Change? HAH

join:2001-06-20
Simi Valley, CA

Boycott!

Time to make them the last "Last Mile" wireless company.
Don't buy their products!
--
Personally its not God I dislike, its his fan club I cant stand.

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

Well then...

I guess FON isn't looking so bad now eh?
LLigetfa

join:2006-05-15
Fort Frances, ON
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Unfair pricing?

Ever hear about introductory pricing on a beta product? Who ever heard of paying full market price for a beta product in its infancy?

Get over it.

ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

Re: Unfair pricing?

said by LLigetfa:

Ever hear about introductory pricing on a beta product? Who ever heard of paying full market price for a beta product in its infancy?

Get over it.
I think most would "get over it" if it was announced up front that it was a beta system and that sometime in the future the "real" prices would be advertised ahead of time. From what I am reading, it sounds like they just all of a sudden cut people off and raised rates without notice.

If I am wrong, please point me to where they previously told their customers ahead of time that this was an introductory offer or beta test and also where the future rates were advertised ahead of time.
--
FWD#: 223611

korym
Go Wisp's
ExMod 1999-03
join:1999-12-23
Richmond, VA

Re: Unfair pricing?

said by ropeguru:

If I am wrong, please point me to where they previously told their customers ahead of time that this was an introductory offer or beta test and also where the future rates were advertised ahead of time.
You're not wrong, ropeguru. This was never mentioned. LLigetfa is out of line with his comment. Sure hate to see someone yank his network out from under his feet.
--
The Virginia WiFi Company : Richmond Free WiFi : Mohr-or-Less

Devanchya
Smile
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Ajax, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

1 recommendation

But how else are they to stay open?

Always look at the business model.

they didn't really have one.

With out this, 2 years max, they would have been bankrupt and you would have all been screaming about how you spent money on a brick.
--
»www.codecipher.com - Marking the way to tomorrow's solutions
KSC5190

join:2002-03-14
Chicago, IL

Re: But how else are they to stay open?

Airlink, linksys, d-link, etc. sell routers for $20-$50 each. Personally, I never paid over $30 for a router until I purchased a few meraki units. I justified the additional cost because they were mesh networking units, not just routers. They pulled a bait-and-switch, plain and simple. Meraki customers were misled, the entire time we've been building networks for meraki, not for ourselves. The mandatory ad bar and tripled price tag really destroy any credibility they had.
kcblack
Premium
join:2000-09-11
Chicago, IL

Re: But how else are they to stay open?

if you flash some of the popular routers with the sveasoft firmware you can get the mesh feature as well.

Kevin
qworster

join:2001-11-25
Bryn Mawr, PA

You can use mDD-WRT firmware on the Meraki...

Buy the basic units and then flash DD-WRT on them. Problem solved.
bmn
? ? ?
Premium,ExMod 2003-06
join:2001-03-15
hiatus

Such a shame...

I was actually going to use their hardware in a project that was going to offer a hotel property-wide WIFI for their guests since they had the solar power kit (which would make deployment much easier without having to run power and cables).

Nice way for a company to shoot itself in the foot...
--
Prove it...
Save the Internet Time (NTP) service, use the pool.

roadyoadyoady

@209.130.203.x

I was considering this...

but it doesn't make sense to pay overhead on equipment that I already own.

Sorry Meraki...no can do.

serge666

join:2004-06-07
Little Falls, NJ

EVIL

forcing Ads on paying customers is EViL!!! >:/

superht1

join:2001-02-22
Kennesaw, GA

Re: EVIL

said by serge666:

Placing ads on paying customers is BS!
fixed

korym
Go Wisp's
ExMod 1999-03
join:1999-12-23
Richmond, VA

They really may have...

...killed the model. For those interested, here's the continuing thread on Meraki's own forum:

»forums.meraki.com/viewtopic.php?t=1841

There's an informal conference call this evening for those of us who have deployed their radios:

»forums.meraki.com/viewtopic.php?t=1916

I'm already looking at alternatives considering I have a city-wide project including two community neighborhood networks as well as a private developer network on the line.

Hope they wake up before they lose a too large of a number of their customers.

Regards,
Kory
--
The Virginia WiFi Company : Richmond Free WiFi : Mohr-or-Less
katylied

join:2003-10-15
Hot Springs National Park, AR

1 recommendation

People are shocked but . . .

Didn't Meraki begin with open source software on commodity hardware ?
Fon can't continue at current ROI levels either I'd guess.
Meraki has put alot of time and effort on top of these things towards making attractive and easy to use products and they want to make a profit.
Anyone who puts in a little time and effort can compete with these guys.
If few choose to compete, there may be a reason.
Does anyone really give warnings of price increases ?

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 edit

The "free lunch" people got sucked in once again

Is this surprising?
All those poor saps who actually believe that they can get something for nothing are once again shocked that this isn't how the real world works.
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KSC5190

join:2002-03-14
Chicago, IL

Re: The "free lunch" people got sucked in once again

Oddly enough, I recall paying for my Meraki units... Suddenly being told that we have to pay 3x as much as before to expand AND that Meraki will retain control of the networks we build is a bit hard to swallow.
bmn
? ? ?
Premium,ExMod 2003-06
join:2001-03-15
hiatus

Re: The "free lunch" people got sucked in once again

You have to realize, FFH See Profile isn't interested in facts...

korym
Go Wisp's
ExMod 1999-03
join:1999-12-23
Richmond, VA

Meraki responds...

»forums.meraki.com/viewtopic.php?p=6945#6945

It's a good start, IMHO.

Regards,
Kory
lschweiss
Premium
join:2005-12-01
Bridgeton, MO

Buy the standard and role your own software

I've been buying Meraki's since they went beta. However, I don't run their software. I install OpenWRT on them w/ OLSRd and I control the mesh network.

Frankly, I thought Meraki grabing 20% for billing was too much to ask. Now they want an additional $100 per unit and still charge 20% to do billing.

It's a nice pre-packaged system but, not worth what they want to charge. Let's face it they don't provide any of the bandwidth or other overheads associated with deploying them.

Makes me consider commercializing the work I have done with some nice front ends and sell the software package.

korym
Go Wisp's
ExMod 1999-03
join:1999-12-23
Richmond, VA

Re: Buy the standard and role your own software

Looks like a good review here of what you've done, if I'm reading correctly:

»www.ccirrus.per.sg/rfc13109/2005···th-olsr/