Structure and Evolution of a Large-Scale Wireless Community Network

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Executive Summary

In recent years, the author has witnessed a trend towards open wireless access, mainly driven by the low cost of IEEE 802.11-capable equipment and its operation in unlicensed spectrum. This trend has many faces; municipalities set up free Wi-Fi hotspots for Internet connectivity in public spaces, while Wi-Fi access is provided as an extra service to customers in other venues, such as restaurants or hotels. Also, in many metropolitan areas worldwide, community-initiated wireless mesh networks have emerged. Their members use inexpensive technologies to build multi-hop wireless networks and communicate autonomously.

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