Community-run Internet Guarantees Net Neutrality one Router at a Time


Photo By geralt via Pixabay

NYC Mesh, a community-owned internet network in New York City, is trying to guarantee net neutrality in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal net neutrality.

On top of a building in Manhattan, NYC Mesh out a large antenna that is directly connected to the internet with a fiber optic cable. This “supernode” is supported by a network of point-to-point routers that volunteers installed on rooftops and windows in the area, providing a fast connection for users in most of Downtown.

Another supernode is placed in Bushwick in Brooklyn and they are planning to install more. Brian Hall, a volunteer working on the project said that they are planning to cover the whole city “with around 30 or 40 supernodes”.

“One thing that inspires me is that the original idea of the internet was a network of networks,” Hall said, “Different organizations like universities or the Defense Department would form their own network, and then they would join them together, and that is how the internet formed. We’re just getting back to the idea. We formed a network, and we join our network with other networks, and get rid of the ISP layer that we don’t really need.”

NYC Mesh’s plan to build a comprehensive network can be challenging. Having a dense network of participants, however, can keep a high bandwidth and a resilient network.

“One of the problems in starting a mesh network is bootstrapping — how you get a mesh network from nothing to actually existing,” Marc Juul, one of the co-creators of People’s Open Network in Oakland, said.