The first PittMesh node was mounted on April 6th, 2013 at HackPittsburgh in the Hill District neighborhood. Slowly thereafter, new nodes began springing up as individuals asked to be a part of the network and purchased equipment through Meta Mesh. Now, PittMesh is in multiple neighborhoods, serving thousands of people a week. Meta Mesh has written numerous grants for neighborhood organizations around the City and continues to expand the network in association with the PittMesh Working Group.
PittMesh, like many other Community Wireless Networks around the world, delivers both Internet access as well as sites and services hosted locally on the network. Should Internet access for the region be interrupted, the PittMesh network will remain up and running making it an ideal network for emergency usage as well as community organizing and hyper-local communication.
Unlike many other wireless solutions where an IT company sells the infrastructure and then sells service to keep up that that infrastructure, PittMesh is installed and maintained by dedicated local community members. There is no IT company to pay for maintainance and no monthly fee for service. Upgrades are handled through swapping out the inexpensive routers and replacement equipment is often written into the initial grant.
Meta Mesh does not own PittMesh nor does it directly maintain it. Meta Mesh is a limited liability company that uses a for-profit business model to raise funds and advocate for the implementation of Community Wireless Networks in the Pittsburgh region. Meta Mesh acts as a point of contact for communities interested in building their own extensions of PittMesh and organizes those communities to build the network themselves.
Meta Mesh sees itself as the first of hopefully many technology groups in the region that develops and then adheres to standard configurations for the network called the PittMesh Standard. The only control Meta Mesh has over PittMesh is the ability to remotely upgrade routers to ensure compatibility and uniformity of the PittMesh Standard across the network. Meta Mesh welcomes other groups to also maintain updates to diversify the control of updates.