The future lies in making networks happen. Last month, respected security technologist Bruce Schneier explained why you would want to share your Wi-Fi bandwidth. It's not nearly as wrong as it sounds.
To me, it's basic politeness. Providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea.
Now here's a powerful idea. Take all those open Wi-Fi signals and mesh them together to provide a larger single network, saturating urban and suburban areas with a free internet connection. Meraki have nailed mesh networking and thanks to a bunch of local enthusiasts (who have taken up the mission with the philosophy of paying it forward) there are now plans to import a fairly large amount of these Meraki devices into Wellington.
What this means for Wellingtonians is that sooner or later, with we'll have an open Wi-Fi network across Te Aro and surrounding districts with a 1GB download cap. Webstock and GOVIS have already donated enough to get parts of the inner city up and running, and with more public support and participation, this will begin to take off over the next few months.
TheFreeNet Aotearoa has a number of these devices to give away free to Wellington cafes and anyone else who can help. Please contact them if you have spare bandwidth and are in a location to be able to do something with it.
Nobody is saying that Meraki is the final or definitive answer to the future of building local mesh networks in Wellington, but it is clearly time to break the stranglehold of telcos on mesh networking technology, and Meraki provides a practical opportunity for getting started right now. When mobile phone meshes arrive, all hell is going to break loose. Now is the time to start thinking about the data cloud and Wi-Fi networks in the same way that we have always thought about public space.