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Low-cost wireless LAN equipment operating in unlicensed spectrum has revolutionized local area communications, introducing novel schemes for open wireless connectivity and even new business models. The ease of deployment of Wi-Fi has made it ubiquitous in densely populated urban areas, and it was just a matter of time before wireless communities emerged. Using inexpensive wireless technology to communicate, autonomous wireless internetworks have been built, offering a variety of broadband services. Based on the authors' own experience participating in one of the largest wireless communities worldwide, the Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network, they attempt to explain their structure and mechanisms, study the reasons for their emergence and growth, and predict their future evolution.
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