WORLD EVANGELISM WITH FREE INTERNET
A Puerto Williams, Chile Missionary Church begins sucessful evanglizing with Meraki Free Internet
The Lord has put on our hearts to use Meraki here at the world's most southern town, Puerto Williams. Chile ("Just 60 miles from Cape Horn at the ends of the earth"... Acts 1:8 ) as a means to evangelize the approximately 2200 persons here.
It is prophesied in Ezekiel 20 that a fire of the Holy Spirit will start here in the south and spread North and to all the world.
We are believing that a world wave of evangelism may be sparked and kindled by free Internet provided by this low cost mesh system outlined here and that this system will be used by pastors all over the world.
Over the last 6 months, the people here have purchased 150 Meraki Mini antennas from us at US $49 each (plus freight and customs fees) so they could get our free Internet connection. We give the connection as an offering to the Lord. We are believing God for a Internet and a computer for each home. This will require about 300 more antenas and 100 computers. We are looking for a donation of computers and more bandwidth.
Our "splash page" brings a new word of God (The Word For Today by Bob Gass available in various languages) each day to users and we also advertise our Christian book store, Mini Market, Christian and local events. Paid ads are available which can also help support the ministry.
Please contact us for any questions, technical advise or doubts that you may have about this new way of evangelism.
In just the first month using this system, we saw a family of five saved from divorce after they read the Word For Today on our "splash page". They came to our house the same day and told us. We had been praying for them!
This system will work for Christain missionary work and evangelization in any part of the world at very low cost until January 31, 2009 when Meraki will triple their small antena costs. They will go from the actual cost of $49 to $149. This will raise the cost of setting up a small network for 150 homes such as we have here by $15,000. It is urgent that we now rush these mesh systems to be installed by pastors and churches into poorer villages of the world that have both a spiritual and a digital information deficit.
In our very successful free educational network, Internet is provided by Entel S.A. with a 512 kbps satellite dish. Over 130 registered families are now connected 24/7, the majority of which are information-deprived from both financial and isolation reasons.
Pastor Ben Garrett
Cape Horn Missionary Church
Meraki and the Mini trace back to Biswas's studies at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. In 2002, he and company cofounder John Bicket worked on Roofnet, an experimental network that developed the "mesh" model for today's Mini.
The two dropped out of MIT, moved to Mountain View, and refined Roofnet into what is now Meraki.
Almost immediately after launching the company in 2006, they sold a couple thousand kits to Google and hundreds more to groups along the West Coast. One early adopter was NetEquality, a nonprofit that rolled out free Internet access to affordable housing complexes in Portland, Ore.
"The mesh network design helps us keep costs down in so many ways," says David Cannard, director of NetEquality.
First, the wireless technology saved them from ripping open walls to install connection wires in older buildings. Even in new construction projects, he says, simply laying cable from apartment to apartment can be expensive.
Second, since all the Meraki radios talk to one another, the system automatically warns NetEquality if one of the boxes malfunctions, saving Mr. Cannard (or more likely a professional technician) from having to check each box to see where the problem lies.
The information-sharing scheme has allowed one 400-apartment building in Portland to split five DSL lines across 100 Meraki nodes, Cannard says, dropping the cost of Web access to about $1 a month for each apartment.
Now in its second year, Meraki has yet to advertise its services. Simple word-of-mouth has carried its name through the global geek grapevine.
For example, Jim Bletas, head of WNI Global in San Jose, Calif., is currently negotiating with telecoms for a massive installation of Meraki nodes in poor areas of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"We want to have a million units" with Internet access by 2009, Mr. Bletas says. "And if it works in poor, urban areas, we'll be looking at rural networks next."
Meraki plays by different rules. Its wireless networks string together several small radios that bounce information from one to another. Instead of just radiating in a straight line, data can zigzag from box to box. That way, if one link breaks, the rest automatically reconfigure and find a different path for that e-mail or Web page to travel.
Meraki's 25-year-old CEO, Sanjit Biswas, can recount a dozen similar stories of low-income neighborhoods that his wireless boxes have helped. He talks about each one with a pride more reminiscent of a parent talking about his kids than a businessman rattling off accomplishments.
"Well, those are all the stories I can think of right now," he says with a hint of humor and modesty. In fact, over the past two years Meraki has powered several thousand wireless networks across 70 countries and opened up the Internet to people who otherwise could never afford it.
While Meraki is a for-profit company, much of its products wind up in affordable housing projects, poor neighborhoods, and developing countries.
"The mission of the company is to bring affordable Internet access to the next billion people," Mr. Biswas says. "We've always felt a social obligation in this work."
Meraki, a Greek word that means putting love and creativity into your work, doesn't offer Internet service. It provides the hardware and software to manage a network. At the heart of the business is the $50 wireless Mini – a wireless router that is neither the fastest nor most powerful on the market. But many have called it the most simple and inexpensive.
Even as major players in municipal Wi-Fi abandon their large wireless projects, those two attributes have carried Meraki networks into Amazonian towns, African cities, and Alaskan outposts. And there's no sign of business slowing down.
A little about Meraki
Meraki’s mission is to bring affordable Internet access to the next billion people. Meraki’s new approach to wireless networking empowers individuals and groups to bring access to local communities, anywhere in the world.
Meraki has focused on changing the economics of access since its beginning as a MIT Ph.D. research project that provided wireless access to graduate students.
Using their research, Meraki got its start at a low-income housing community in the US. News about Meraki’s products spread by word of mouth into over 25 countries around the world. Every day, new Meraki networks bring access to locations ranging from urban apartment complexes in London to villages in India.
Meraki is based in Mountain View, California, and is backed in part by Google and Sequoia Capital.
Meraki (may-rah-kee) is a Greek word that means doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing.
Sanjit Biswas is responsible for Meraki’s strategic direction and day-to-day operations. He is currently on leave from the Ph.D. program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he co-led the research project that won several academic awards and later became the foundation of Meraki’s wireless mesh technology. Sanjit holds a B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering from Stanford, and an S.M. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.
Meraki Aims to Link Up a City
Plan for Free Web Access
In San Francisco Is a Bet
On Technology, User Help
By KEVIN J. DELANEY
Wall Sreet Journal, January 4, 2008
Meraki Inc. plans to offer free high-speed wireless Internet access throughout San Francisco this year, betting that low-cost technology and help from users will bring success where other municipal Wi-Fi projects have failed.
The closely held Mountain View, Calif., start-up says the free San Francisco wireless project -- which doesn't involve city funding -- is a test of technology it has developed for building low-cost, large-scale networks, generating some revenue from small ads viewed by users. Meraki last summer began offering free-Wi-Fi Internet access to residents of a roughly two-square-mile swath of San Francisco and says it currently has 40,000 users.
[Outdoor Meraki repeater being installed.]
Outdoor Meraki repeater being installed.
Residents of other U.S. cities -- including St. Cloud, Fla., and Mountain View -- have access to free wireless Internet service using Wi-Fi technology. But ambitious plans for private-public partnerships to create such networks have fizzled in some cities over the past year, partly because of Internet company EarthLink Inc.'s decision to retrench in cities, including San Francisco. EarthLink had joined with Google Inc. to negotiate a wireless-network deal with the city, but abandoned the effort amid political opposition and financing concerns.
Meraki's approach is to use lower-cost equipment and rely on consumer volunteers who install small Meraki boxes in their homes, known as "repeaters," that help spread the wireless Internet signal. The playing-card-box-size gear, which Meraki provides free to San Francisco residents who contact it, can be attached to a window with suction cups and helps extend the distance the wireless Internet signal can travel. It needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
Meraki itself plans to install a few dozen wireless gateways connected to the Internet and hundreds of solar-powered repeaters on San Francisco rooftops to also help spread the signal. It hopes every San Francisco home will be able to access Meraki's service by the end of 2008, though that timing depends on volunteer installation of the Meraki boxes in consumer homes. Consumers will be able to access the Meraki service using standard Wi-Fi technology in their computers and mobile handsets, even if they don't install one of the Meraki boxes. Meraki said it is targeting providing access at a speed of one megabit-per-second, comparable to some wired high-speed Internet connections.
A spokesman for the San Francisco Mayor's Office, which had championed the free wireless deal with Google and EarthLink, said it was exploring with Meraki and others how the city could support their efforts. One area of possible collaboration aims to speed up the availability of networks in low-income areas, starting with municipal housing authority properties.
Meraki, which was founded in 2006 and sells wireless gear and related network services to organizations and individuals, says it is financing the free San Francisco wireless service itself as a research-and-development expense, though it will receive some revenue from small text ads users will see when they use it.
The company announced today $20 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures, Northgate Capital and other existing investors. It had previously raised $5 million from Sequoia and Google.
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