Last active 4 years ago
You are right about PTP providing OpenWRT APs to member nodes who want them; members are welcome to use their own hardware as well. Most PTP nodes are actually hosted by individuals, not businesses or other organizations, and I don't think you're correct about them not being interested in mesh. See for example:
I don't know Stephouse that well yet, although I'm considering leaving Comcast for them. I once worked for a rural wireless ISP, and had no luck getting them to adopt a mesh topology, even though we could have increased our customer base substantially. The main concern was basically about quality of service: connectivity issues in meshes are harder to debug, and one subscriber's equipment failure could affect multiple other customers. My impression is that most ISPs want to keep their distribution infrastructure entirely separate from subscriber access points.
I suspect that Stephouse would be inclined look at us as a competitor, since they're already in the wireless distribution business. But upstream ISPs might be interested in negotiating bulk rates with a 'bandwidth co-op', if we had something like that incorporated. I think it's worth discussing pros and cons at the next meeting.
PTP itself is a tiny non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers who meet over beer once a week, and I don't think they're really oriented around extracting benefit from anything :-) ...but the obvious win for PTP participants would be the same as for everyone else: higher total bandwidth, failover resiliency, better security, etc.
Antenna is a definite possibility, but we'd have to get permission. I have roof access if we want to try it out.
If we're meeting outside business hours, I'd have to let people in, but that's no big deal.
I work for idealist downtown. We have a pretty nice meeting space in our building that we can use for a meetup; it's at 209 SW Oak. Any time's fine with me. Sooner is definitely better.
If we'd rather use a different location that's cool too. I'd prefer somewhere fairly close-in though, so I can avoid driving.
Apart from the many technical details involved in getting this network, uh, working, there is some non-trivial social and maybe even legal infrastructure to build. The more people we have involved, the better it will work for everybody. Also, the more tall buildings and elevated places we can get involved, the better. So we need tech support volunteers to help get nodes online, but we also need education / outreach / recruitment / public relations people: in a word, activists.
I think it's a good idea for us, as individuals anyway, to form some working relationships with existing organizations.
Stephouse is a local wireless ISP that we should at least be aware of. They offer residential and business service via 2.4Ghz links throughout the city.
The Personal Telco Project has been around since 2000, and has hundreds of public-access wifi nodes scattered around Portland. They've stuck around through the rise and fall of MetroFi , an ill-fated commercial mesh start-up. Many of their members have similar long-standing aspirations for building a city-wide mesh, and they have a lot of experience and connections that can be helpful to this project. Consider attending one of their Wednesday-evening meetings.