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Community group explores a more affordable alternative to Iowa City’s internet service providers


Community Internet Project

Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room B — Saturday, Feb. 17 at 4 p.m.

Image courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries

A community-based alternative to Iowa City’s current internet service providers will be the focus of a meeting at the Iowa City Public Library on Saturday.

The Community Internet Project is exploring how to set up a mesh network that would provide free wireless internet access to parts of the city.

“We were looking for a grassroots way of overcoming economic barriers to internet access,” Chelsea Pfeiffer, one of the project’s organizers, told Little Village. “We’re looking to imitate projects that have been successful in other cities.”

Mesh networks have been set-up in Detroit and Oakland to provide internet access to people who can’t afford pricey ISP packages. These mesh networks use small radio transmitters as nodes to provide wireless internet access. Only one of the nodes needs to be physically connected to the internet for network to function.

The project is still in its early stages. It had its first meeting at the ICPL last month.

“This was spurred, in part, by the repeal of net neutrality,” Pfeiffer said.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era rules that required ISPs to offer equal access to all internet content without giving preferential treatment to any site or charging consumers more for higher-quality content delivery. Repealing net neutrality was a priority for large telecommunication companies and the Trump administration.

The two-hour meeting, which starts at 4 p.m., is open to the public. On its Facebook page, the Community Internet Project emphasizes that people don’t need to be “tech savvy to take part in our project.”


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