How to Become An Internet Tycoon

How to Become An Internet Tycoon

How much do you pay to access the Internet? According to J.D. Power and Associates, the average price for high-speed access is $42.13 per month. Although you’re paying for 24/7 availability, you’re actually using only a fraction of that time. Divide that monthly fee by the number of minutes you’re actively online—when you’re not working, commuting, eating, watching TV, playing single-player games, sleeping, exercising, or doing whatever else you do when you’re not on the Internet—and broadband Internet access looks outlandishly expensive.

Now what if you could share that pipe—and split the cost—with your neighbors? Hmm. If the pipe’s fat enough, and you can get enough people to sign up, you could turn a nice profit. If you’re thinking the cost of the necessary infrastructure would present a barrier, you probably haven’t heard of Meraki.

Meraki Networks started out as a Ph.D. research project at MIT, but it has blossomed into a small company headquartered in Mountain View, California. The company’s mission, CEO and Co-Founder Sanjit Biswas told me in a recent interview, is to “bring affordable Internet access to the next billion people.” A noble goal to be sure, but I’m more interested in making money off my excess bandwidth.

Here’s how it works: To share your Cable or DSL connection, simply plug a Meraki Mini into your Cable or DSL modem and install Meraki’s Dashboard software on your PC. The Mini acts as a gateway, allowing anyone within range to share your connection to the Internet. The size of the network is limited only by the number of Meraki Mini’s you deploy, since each one acts as a relay. In this respect, Meraki is similar to two other mesh network systems we’re fond of: Zensys’ Z-Wave and Sonos’ Digital Music System--on much larger scale. But where these two systems are limited to a single household, a Meraki network can cover an entire apartment building, an entire neighborhood, or even an entire city.

Meraki Networks' repeaters not only allow you to share your Internet connection with your neighbors, it also comes with the software infrastructure you'll need to bill them for the privilege.

So, how do you make money off this? As the owner of the network, you grant or deny access to and establish policies for the network via Meraki’s Dashboard software. Dashboard comes complete with security and encryption, network branding and splash pages, detailed usage reporting, and network management. More importantly, the software has an integrated billing module, including fee schedules, support for major credit cards, and automated collections. If anyone abuses the network—by sucking up huge amounts of bandwidth via BitTorrent, for instance—you can turn off their access until they agree to behave.

The Meraki Mini ($50, available now) is an indoor repeater capable of serving wireless adapters within a 100- to 150-feet radius. The Meraki Mini Outdoor ($100, also available now) is a weatherized version of the same device with an outdoor range of 300- to 750-feet. The company will ship an improved version of their outdoor repeater, the Meraki 3, in August. The new device has the same range as the first, but you can by extend its territory by installing third-party antennas.
Both outdoor modules are capable of running on Power over Ethernet (PoE), but Meraki will also ship in August a kit containing a solar panel and a battery pack, so that repeaters can be set up nearly anywhere without the need for electrical power.



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Excellent article! Other countries such as Canada, France, Japan, England et al have T1 high speed internet access that is much cheaper and faster than the USA.



wow, was this really a Ph.D. project at MIT? Not only is it a stupid idea, but this man is blatantly selling the tools to violate EVERY ISPs TOS. Plus, people have been splitting their high speed connection into multiple dial-up connections for several years now (I remember reading an article on how to set up a Linux box to do it). This is just a rough hack if you ask me...not something for which a Ph.D. would be awarded. Maybe a pretty front end so a dumb ass can be an administrator. haha



Most net users don't understand that a Tos is not binding to those other than the orginal user.
Several things would have to be proven to say a user has broken the Tos.
One the above menton unite could be used for outside service by the pool.
If some one is going to jump on my connection then why not be able to charge him.
Like McDonals does. They are not ISP sources like Mindlesspring or AOL yet you can jump on their wifi anytime your credit card will allow.
The worse thing is that your account could be revoked but only after they can prove you are becoming an ISP.
Then all you do is buy a ISP sub account from them and keep on making money.
At least in Alabama we do understand that all they wont is their money they could care less what we do with the bandwith as long as they can not be sued over it.
So cheer up take the chance that some one will pay you for the access.
By the way with the limited access we have in small towns and county areas in the US high speed still means a dial up of 31.4 k.

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I agree with the murph, there is no way that any internet provider is going to allow anything like that.



I think it does depend on the level of service you get as well. Granted, most cable/dsl providers will ban large-scaled sharing, but if you are a bandwidth hog that has to purchase the biggest and best package available, then the same TOS doesn't apply.



Yeah, I don't see how this will be very popular. Sounds cool, but as the others stated, the dreaded TOS will surely be its demise.



The Murph is right. I live in Florida and am limited to a company called Bright House (which I've been pretty happy with by the way) and their TOS has very similar language.

Not that I'm encouraging it, but chances are you could get away with it provided that your clients don't use very much of the bandwidth. But if they aren't going to use any bandwidth, they are probably going to be happy checking their email via dial-up. So unless we all find a very permissive ISP, I can't see this being very popular.



I, for one, fail to see how this wouldn't violate the ToS of just about every service provider out there. For example, take Comcast:

Prohibited uses include, but are not limited to, using the Service, Customer Equipment, or the Comcast Equipment to:

ix. Resell the Service or otherwise make available to anyone outside the Premises the ability to use the Service (i.e. wi-fi, or other methods of networking), in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, or on a bundled or unbundled basis. The Service is for personal and non-commercial use only and you agree not to use the Service for operation as an Internet service provider or for any business enterprise or purpose, or as an end-point on a non-Comcast local area network or wide area network;

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