Free and Fast ‘Roof2Roof’ Internet Available in Richmond, CA

Antenna on 2512 Florida Avenue, Richmond to offer free Internet for those with antennas on their roofs

Antenna on 2512 Florida Avenue, Richmond to offer free Internet for those with antennas on their roofs

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!”

End-user window mountable antenna for connecting to Internet Archive's tower

End-user window mountable antenna for connecting to Internet Archive’s tower

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   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 ‘’ 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!

Press: SF Chronicle   SeattlePI


18 thoughts on “Free and Fast ‘Roof2Roof’ Internet Available in Richmond, CA

  1. Sarah B.

    Worthy experiment but seems like uptake in Richmond, CA would be pretty low (asking residents or businesses to pony up for an antenna and have the expertise to know how to wire…). Would love to see you guys launch this off the roof of your building on Clement & Funston!

    1. brewster Post author

      We have such at thing on our building on clement, but it is lower– there are usually 15 antennas connected. We have not been able to get a permit from the city to go higher.

      we will be making more noise about this after we expand another notch in san francisco.


    1. brewster Post author

      We have used ubiquiti gear, but any directional antenna will work. unfortunately we do not have the staff to do much in the way of support. I hope there is someone or some group that decides they want to help spread free wireless. It can even be a money maker to help people get going.


    (O_0) im parked right under the antenna!!! boom!!! i hear AMTRAK PASSING BEHIND ME. Thanks Richmond, I gotta get that antenna at my place YEE!!!

  3. Brian Lewis

    I live on Clinton Hill in the North and East, perhaps a little further than a crow’s mile, and I have an antennae in my attic from the ‘old days’. How would I configure it directionally and hook it up through the old co-axial cable connection to my desktop computer?

    1. brewster Post author

      Not sure if what you have will work. you can connect to our 2.4Ghz antenna with line of sight and the right directional antenna. We have been using ubiquiti gear.

      unfortunately we do not have the staff to do much in the way of support. I hope there is someone or some group that decides they want to help spread free wireless. It can even be a money maker to help people get going.

  4. Nick

    I use a similar setup in the mountains here in Ireland. My ISP’s mast is over 5 miles away and I’ve no trouble in any weather or wind. Sadly though not for free. Nice one guys!

  5. Ormond Otvos

    Perhaps instead of a rote dismissal of Richmond, and a plaintive reference to a lack of volunteer staff, it would be possible to give a link to a technical forum post that gave a simple diagram. Hook up antenna to roof, use google map to aim it with a good compass or landmark, hook cable to wireless router antenna? Profit.

    The antenna on your roof:

    The cable to your router antenna input.:

    1. Jose

      Thanks for the antenna and cable information. Any suggestions on the wifi router? With this information I will be on my roof in a few days. I’m just about a mile or slightly over a mile from your Florida Ave location a couple of blocks south of Kennedy High School.

    1. dorrie lane

      Hi Ormond,
      I’m part of the Richmond North & East neighborhood group, we are discussing how we can go about doing this for our neighbors and have a few questions. We sure could use a teensy bit of tech help. We have 2 homeowners volunteering their rooftops and we’re ready to finalize the planned installation/costs and get this up and running.. We have questions, can you help out? If not do you have a referral? Thanks in advance!

  6. Allan Jensen

    I am on Bd. of Directors, Marina Bay Northshore Condo Assn. We are 4 stories high and probably within 1 mile of your location. in addition to our own 130 units. with a repeater antenna we could probably service the entire residential and commercial community out here at Marina Bay!!??
    Would individual subscribers be able to encrypt their signals in the same way we now do with our Comcast ISP???
    Let’s talk…

    1. brewster Post author

      Thank you for writing. We would be very interested in both having your members use the service and your building help re-transmit to others. This would be a huge positive step for this system.

      And, yes, you can encrypt and do anything you normally do with an Internet connection.

      May I suggest we talk on the phone? I can be reached at 415 561 6767, and can help with scheduling.


  7. bonnie sellars

    Hi Brewster

    As a member of I.O.O.F, I feel we could approach some of our Hall Association Board members to participate in a project like this! We have Halls throughout the Bay Area, though, traditionally, Odd Fellows tend to be quiet, so you might not know anyone is in the building.

  8. dorrie lane

    I am a member of the Richmond North & East neighborhood group and we are about 15 that’s interested in getting this done in our neighborhood. We have 2 potential homeowners with 2 story buildings that would allow a repeater antenna on their roofs, located just over 1 mile from Florida site. We have questions and need just a little support to get going on purchasing the equipment and installing for our neighbors. Please, is it possible to connect with others to help make this happen?

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