I posted this on slashdot.org per the advice of a Linux’y friend, but it looks like I have better success posting here. So here you go:
The Los Angeles Times reported that the City Council wants to provide free wifi to the entire city. They’re quoting basic wifi internet infrastructure at $60-100 million dollars, and $5 billion for upgrading it to fiber speed. This all seems really high for a city with less than 500 square miles. I’m assuming someone is getting rich off all this.
We want to do a protest bid, and give a proper plan for wireless internet, based on the fact that the internet is actually free, and a city government can bypass businesses and take advantage of that. So I’m posting this to gather ideas.
Our basic plan so far is a central grid of high-powered routers, say about one for every square mile, that would plug into fiber channels. We could then crowdsource the high demand areas to plug in repeaters to make wifi communication reliable.
The central grid of routers would cost about $200k in parts and could be set up almost immediately. We would need about 1000 fiber channels to plug into, but this should be relatively simple, provided there’s already fiber all over town at this point.
Repeaters will be the bigger issue, since their range is ultimately limited by the strength of the laptop transmitter that communicates with them. But that’s why I think crowdsourcing high-demand areas is the best way to go about this. People can go to a website and pinpoint where they’d like to see better wifi internet access, then we can have a department do triage to see which locations need repeaters most. But at $50-100 a pop, we can keep costs low.
The other issue is how this grid will communicate with the internet at large, what peer arrangements we’ll need, what business we’ll need to suck up to until we build our own fiber infrastructure. But there are advantages to this. With such a large fiber internet infrastructure set up, the city of Los Angeles can become its own ISP, providing wired fiber internet to homes all over the grid.
Anyway, this is enough information to get the ball rolling.