Building Wireless Community Networks is about getting people connected to one another. Wireless technology is being used right now to connect neighborhoods, businesses, and schools to the vast, massively interconnected, and nebulous entity known as the Internet. One of the goals of this book is to help you get your community “unplugged” and online, using inexpensive off-the-shelf equipment.

A secondary but critical goal of this book is to come to terms with exactly what is meant by community. It might refer to your college campus, where many people own their own laptops and want to share files and access to the Internet. Your idea of community could encompass your apartment building or neighborhood, where broadband Internet access may not even be available. This book is intended to get you thinking about what is involved in getting people in your community connected, and it will demonstrate working examples of how to make these connections possible.


This book describes some solutions to the current (but rapidly changing) problem of building a wireless network for community use. It is not intended to be a design guide for wireless companies and ISPs, although I hope they find the information in it useful (and at least a little bit entertaining).

This book is intended for the technical user who is interested in bringing wireless high-speed network access to wherever it’s needed. This could include extending Internet connectivity to areas where other access (such as DSL or cable) isn’t available. It could also include setting up access at a school, where structures were built long before anyone thought about running cables and lines into classrooms. This book should also be useful for people interested in learning about how dozens of groups around the planet are providing wireless access in their own communities. The story of wireless network access is still in its infancy, but it is already full of fascinating twists and turns (never mind its potential!). I hope to communicate what I’ve learned of this story to you.

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