Meta Mesh Wireless Communities, a nonprofit organization based in the Allentown
neighborhood of Pittsburgh, has received a $120,000 grant from the Hillman Foundation.
This generous grant will allow Meta Mesh Wireless Communities to build a city-wide public WiFi network called PittMesh that will act as the infrastructure to deliver donated bandwidth from local Internet Service Providers.
This new infrastructure will make free public WiFi in Pittsburgh a real possibility. Although providing free public WiFi is on the City’s list of innovation goals, steps to achieving this have not yet begun. In fact, Downtown Pittsburgh has not updated its public WiFi since 2008.
Meta Mesh will be able to help the City of Pittsburgh accomplish its ambitious goal of providing ubiquitous public WiFi access to city residents and visitors by building long-distance WiFi links that allow for transmission of internet bandwidth to almost any neighborhood in Allegheny County. This “backhaul network” is unique in the United States and cheaper than most cities with public WiFi networks. Meta Mesh partners with ISPs to remove the monthly cost of bandwidth and manufactures its own, low-cost wireless routers.
Meta Mesh Wireless Communities was founded in 2012 and became a non-profit in 2015. The organization seeks to bridge the Digital Divide in Pittsburgh and beyond by connecting developing neighborhoods to the internet, bringing residents greater economic opportunity and access to information. Their work has been featured on NPR’s Science Friday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Public Source, among other media sources.
“The UN has declared Internet access a human right, but a quarter of Pittsburghers don’t have access. We are going to change that,” said the organization’s Director of Outreach, Becky Zajdel.