RoofNet is a "mesh networking" technology being developed by MIT. Basically, it allows for a town-wide wireless network. The RoofNet software automatically figures out the fastest way to reach from point A to point B and continuously monitors the network paths. MIT has produced a great diagram of this:
Technically, each RoofNet node is a small computer running Linux with an 802.11b card running in ad-hoc mode and a good antenna.
We are currently looking at MIT's software as well as a commercial open-source solution, MeshAP from LocustWorld
Well, doesn't the prospect of low-cost, community-owned and community-operated broadband internet access interest you? If our RoofNet was connected to a few very fast T1 lines we could get up to 10 times the speed of a cable modem at a fraction of the cost! And we wouldn't have to worry about outdated technology (Hollis Telephone/TDS) or horrific speeds and rates (Charter). RoofNet is a novel idea, but there are many other similar community-owned networks across the country.
Some quick calculations reveal how cheap a mesh network in town could be. $15,000 equipment investment (very ballpark) and $300/month Internet connection, minus $240 of external revenue from visitors, equals about $30/month to repay the entire investment in a year. To repay it in two years would cost about $17/month per user. A small installation fee ($100 or so) could lower the cost significantly. Compare that to the competition - even wired!
If you are interested in the idea, please place yourself on the map of interested residences by clicking on Register Interest. RoofNet is a relatively short-distance technology, so we need nodes at least within a mile or two of each other to have a viable network. If and when this happens, I will contact you all and attempt to implement this.
I am Quentin Smith, a high school student and computer geek who lives off of North Pepperell Road in southern Hollis. I read about the RoofNet technology and the struggles to find other broadband options in our area, and I decided that it was time I did something about it. I put together this website and the rest, as they say, is history.