TUCSON MESH

COMMUNITY CONTROLLED INTERNET

WHAT IS TUCSON MESH?

Tucson Mesh is a community-controlled wireless internet network that offers sliding-scale and low-cost internet access. The network is designed, spread, and maintained by a collective of its users and volunteers. We use 'mesh' technology to create a strong and resilient network that is faster and more reliable than what is currently provided by traditional internet service providers — and when you join, you make it easier for your neighbors to join as well. Tucson Mesh believes in net neutrality, and unlike corporate internet service providers, we will never monitor your web traffic, collect your personal data, or throttle your internet speeds on any website.

WHY ARE WE DOING IT?

Tucson Mesh is an anti-capitalist project. We believe vital services should be distributed on the basis of how they can best serve everyone, not by how they can produce the largest profit for a handful of corporations. Reliable access to the internet has become a necessity, and yet remains financially inaccessible for many.

We are not a charity. Our goal is not simply to "help people in need." We seek to change the underlying conditions that produce unequal access in the first place. We're building a world where the infrastructure to access the internet is held in common, not controlled by multi-billion dollar telecommunications companies. The internet is a paradox; it connects millions of people across distance, but we also know that it contributes to feelings of isolation and despair so common in the modern world. With our project, Tucson Mesh hopes to reduce the isolating effect of internet technology and instead use it to create ways to build and strengthen community ties by connecting participants in-person for neighborhood-scale organizing.

We didn't choose to work on providing internet access because we're tech experts (we're not!), but as a demonstration to ourselves and our community: if complicated technologies such as the internet can be given away at cost by a network of volunteers, what's to stop people in Tucson from doing the same thing with mental health services? Auto repair? Housing? Creating alternative models for internet distribution can also help us to envision numerous possibilities for organizing and restructuring for a post-capitalist world.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

We get bandwidth directly from a data center and distribute it wirelessly through rooftop antennas. When you join the network, we will install an antenna on your roof and run a cable from it into your home to connect to a router. The rooftop antenna will receive the internet for you to access through your own home network, and will also help broadcast the bandwidth further throughout your surrounding neighborhood, making it easier for your neighbors to join and strengthening the network. We invite you to get further involved by spreading the word through your social connections in your community and by helping us to maintain the network. While nobody will be required to volunteer, we hope to create an active and empowered base of internet users who understand the technology they are using, and may choose to become involved by learning to respond to support calls, maintain their own rooftop connections, and assist with future installs to keep the network growing.