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At a time when every classroom and doctor’s office has moved online, when bearing witness to violence and injustice on the Internet is a matter of life and death, a mere 53% of Black residents and 44% of Latinx residents in Philadelphia have broadband connections (Alvaro 2020). The Philly Community Wireless Project is building community-owned and -operated mesh networks to address this digital inequity. Mesh networks allow a single Internet connection to be shared among a broader group of users with very little cost or infrastructure required.

Our members include community organizers, technologists, researchers, public school teachers, and Philadelphia City Hall staffers. PhillyWisper—a pro-net neutrality, wireless internet service provider—is donating 25 MB/s bandwidth to our network. We are currently identifying pilot antenna sites in Kensington and Fairhill. From there, we will plan participatory design and technical workshops that will empower the community to maintain and grow this free network connection.

We invite you to join us in planning these technical and cooperative frameworks. If you could build the Internet from scratch, where would you start?

We meet on Zoom every Friday at 2p ET. Sign up for our mailing list to join.

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