Monday marked the first day in the US without net neutrality- the Obama-era rules preventing AT&T, Comcast and other internet service providers from blocking, slowing down, or prioritizing internet traffic.
WeTransfer, a file transfer startup based in the Venice neighborhood in Los Angeles, is partnering with a local outfit called the Community Broadband Project to create a “Mesh network” – a decentralized series of wireless routers that allow customers to get online without going through an ISP. In practice, mesh networks are created when households install routers – known as “Nodes” – that then connect to local antennas, creating a distinct local network.
Flickr/Chris Goldberg Mesh networks have been tools for grassroots organizations looking to shirk the influence of powerful ISPs for years.
Although they are used in rural areas that don’t have access to broadband services, their use isn’t widespread. A few tech companies have their own fiber and internet connections within their own buildings, but this is the first time a company is offering an independent connection to households in the area.
“We were looking for a way that not only we could benefit from an internet that is net neutral, but also some degree educate people around us that t is an alternative,” Bradfield said.
While WeTransfer is putting money into the network, Bradfield said the company won’t profit from it.
Ultimately, Bradfield said, he wants the FCC to reinstate net neutrality rules.
States such as California, Oregon, and Washington are in the process of passing their own state-level net neutrality laws.
Although bringing back net neutrality on a federal level is unlikely given FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s stance on the issue, several states and organizations have sued the FCC..