“Mesh networks in urban spaces are on the rise and are increasingly widespread and innovative. Often built by people with an interest in community networks and the distribution of power and control within the Internet, mesh networks make for a fascinating phenomena to research in the ways they bridge the social and the political. This article presents a study of Réseau Libre, an emerging mesh network community in Montréal. Started in 2012 by a group of tech activists, its original goal was to connect peers through an independent, self-funded and decentralized wireless network. By creating an autonomous long-range wireless network outside the scope of government regulation. Réseau Libre’s project is inherently political and within the creeping reaches of the surveillance state, seen as increasingly necessary. In this article, we examine the history and organization of Réseau Libre, its organizational limits and physical realities. We analyze the project within its particular political context and provide a number of recommendations oriented around the future success of Réseau Libre and other similar projects around the world.”
Find the complete special issue on “Alternative Internets” here.