Funded by Sequoia Capital and Google, Meraki Networks plans to provide city-wide free Internet access via Wi-Fi in San Francisco.

An excerpt from Wired:

“This groundbreaking network in San Francisco will show the world that with Meraki’s unique approach to building networks, we can quickly bring broadband Internet access to every city in the world,” said Meraki CEO, Sanjit Biswas.

Wi-Fi access is made available for free via a mesh of solar powered repeaters. Users have to install the repeater available from Meraki (for free). The network is ad supported but draws on the voluntary initiative from individuals to provide space for the repeaters.

The project has been immensely successful in deploying 500 repeaters so far and is used by around 40,000 people. An earlier attempt from EarthLink and Google to provide city-wide free Internet came to naught due to several factors including political reasons. With the voluntary approach, Meraki seeks to implement Wi-Fi connectivity in a hassle-free manner.

The project could have immense implications in bringing free Internet access across developing nations, since it’s financially feasible.

More information:

Startup plans WiFi where Google failed (InternetFinancialNews)

San Francisco’s New Wi-Fi Provider Plays it Safe (PC World)

Start-Up Takes up Wi-Fi Project in San Francisco (IT Business Edge)

What issues do you think could come in the way of Meraki’s Wi-Fi plans?