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Community Wireless Networks

Open community wireless “mesh” networks digitally connect communities, and allow neighbors to share Internet access or use locally hosted applications.

Community networks are built by a coalition of community anchor institutions, community-based organizations, municipal representatives, and individuals working together to plan, design, and deploy a network. Ownership and management duties are distributed among the community. Digital Stewards are community members that take care of the network.

starting a network graphic

SUGGESTED NETWORK BUILDING STEPS

  1. Identify Community Partners and Define Partnership
    The essential step is to decide which partners will develop, plan and maintain the network.
  2. Determine Pilot Network Area
    Plan the initial network to connect key locations in the community.
  3. Outreach and Planning
    Surveys, community meetings, and transparent or participatory budgeting can ensure that the network gets local support. Manage expectations by presenting the project as a collaborative effort, not a free service.
  4. Installation
    OTI has simple guides to installing Commotion software onto routers.
  5. Train Digital Stewards to Manage the Network
    For long-term sustainability, think early on about who will handle maintenance and troubleshooting.

SUGGESTED PARTNERS TO TALK TO WHEN BUILDING YOUR NETWORK

  • Public institutions (post offices, museums, schools, universities)
  • Public gathering spaces (parks, coffee shops)
  • Community-based organizations
  • Businesses
  • Municipal governments

Connect with Others

Mesh networking begins with people. Work with your community to determine communication needs, interests, and willingness to participate and help. Start with conversations or meetings about how your group could use mesh networking. For help, see the Planning modules in the Commotion Construction Kit. We also encourage you to read our frequently asked questions.

Connect with the Commotion community

Use our "Contact" or "Report a Bug" forms on this website.

Subscribe to one or more of our listservs:

You can also join us using your chat program on IRC in the #commotion channel on the irc.freenode.net server.

Learn more about using IRC.

Choose your devices

Commotion can be used on a variety of devices. Depending on your community’s needs, you need to select the hardware that will form your network. The network can be made up of cell phones, computers, and routers. Review our Supported Devices to get started.

Install and Configure

Each device you use needs Commotion software. Learn how to flash routers, root phones, and configure Commotion software using our Install + Configure guides. These installation procedures vary based on what hardware you’re using.

Build Your Network

Deploy the network and get multiple devices to communicate in your location. Teach users in your community how to connect to the network.

Explore Your Network

Try out services offered by mesh apps on your network or share your Internet connection with the network so others can get online.

Learn more with: