Wow, Monday morning and already there are plenty of exciting tidbits in the news. The first community based wireless mesh-network is up and running near Devon, UK. You can read about it here. As you may already know, mesh-networks are a disruptive technology because each device acts as a router for all other devices, eliminating the need for a centralized network.
In a recent speech FCC Chairman Michael Powell questioned the FCC’s assumption that spectrum is always scarce, suggesting software-defined radio’s and other new technologies should be allowed to operate on frequencies that are currently un-used or under-used. The speech doesn’t represent any policy changes at the FCC, but these initiatives could open enormous amounts of frequency that could be used for all manner of wireless devices (read: massive mesh-networks!).
An article in the New York Times this morning talks about a startup company in CA that says it will announce WiFi antenna technology today that can give a 2000 ft. range indoors (and up to 4 mi. outdoors). This would be awesome if they really deliver – because with greater range means more robustness and coverage of ad-hoc wireless mesh-networks, further speeding free communications away from centralized power borkers into the common user.
UPDATE: As of March, 2012, almost 10 years later, none of these technologies have never made it the public. The internet is more monopolized, centralized and controlled than ever. To my knowledge there are are no long-range wireless “mesh” technologies available to the general public.