As a free service to Richmond residents, the Internet Archive has installed a 70 foot tower on its physical archive building in Richmond California to offer free and fast Internet to those with roofs that can see the tower. Those wanting to use this community wireless service would need to buy and install a directional antenna on their roof to connect, but from then on their Internet access is free. In this way we call it a ‘free and fast roof2roof network’ since it will generally not reach people’s laptops inside houses. The signal will work at over 1 mile to a suitable antenna with line-of-site to our tower. Wifi receivers with directional antennas can cost as little as one hundred to two hundred dollars from vendors like ubiquiti.
Gayle McLaughlin, mayor of Richmond, when we told her about this, said: “We are dedicated to closing the digital divide in Richmond. Providing free access to the internet is a great benefit for our residents helping us create a better and more equitable city!”
We have achieved 80 megabits per second in both directions with this technology, so this should support many people’s normal Internet use. Typical commercial Internet access runs at 1/10 this speed, so the fastest residential Internet in Richmond will likely be this system. Currently average of 4 users are connect to our tower but we hope this will grow.
We hope that intrepid individuals will connect to this system in a way we have called “tier 3″. While we do not have the budget to provide tech support, we hope that entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, or non-profit organizations will help others get online.
Another step would be to expand the number of houses and buildings that could connect to this system by putting repeater antennas on high locations to expand the number of rooftops with line-of-site to this backbone. If you are an owner of a tall building or structure and are interested in participating, please let us know by writing to email@example.com. We would be interested in paying for the equipment and do the installation for a couple of well placed locations.
Location: Height 70′ above ground level, 2512 Florida Avenue, Richmond, CA. Some more details on the equipment. The network identifiers (SSIDs) include ‘archive.org’ in their names, and the 2.4GHz ones are open with no password or encryption. Thank you to Ralf Muehlen for setting up this system, and thank you to the City of Richmond for allowing an tower to be installed with no delay or hassle.
Onward to a Free and Fast Internet for All!