For the past year the MKE Mesh Cooperative (MMC) has been developing its capabilities to serve Milwaukee with low cost, community owned internet. The MMC is incorporated by the State of Wisconsin as a worker and consumer cooperative, meaning that it is democratically owned and operated by those who deliver and purchase its services. It also will include community organizations as members who become distribution hubs for the internet signals.
The MMC has identified and purchased most of the hardware and software needed for its base hub technology that will be located at the Wells building in downtown Milwaukee. It is there that MMC will tap into the internet backbone which runs underneath the building. The internet signals will be drawn up to an antenna on the roof and broadcast to individuals and community nodes for redistribution to end users. Each end user and community node assist with redistribution of the internet signal keeping it strong and reliable. This distribution method is the essence of the “mesh” technology. While initial hardware testing has been successful, the MMC needs to finalize its lease with the owners of the Wells building to complete installation and testing. Hardware for community node partners and individual end users has been identified but not yet purchased.
The MMC has been relying on volunteer labor and some initial investments from its member owners. However, to move forward it will need additional funding to complete technology purchases and lease arrangements. While a member owner recruitment event in September and t-shirt sales have generated some funding, MMC is pursuing grants and reaching out to other potential member owners who want to invest in internet for and by the community.
Current MMC members and volunteers are developing marketing plans and tools. The MMC website has launched and those involved are actively connecting to individuals and organizations to tell the MMC story, generate excitement and encourage membership.
Join us on Discord: https://discord.gg/ZEa4bfNNHA
We hope to finalize hardware purchases and testing soon, and begin broadcast in the first quarter 2021. We appreciate your interest and support. Please contact us to get more involved or sign up to be a future consumer owner or community partner.