Personal Telco Exports
This page has information for those interested in starting their own community wifi group. Reading these documents might save you some time!
I've created this page partly as an exercise in learning, and have numerous questions. If you can answer any of them, please do. I wrote this page to a hypothetical audience, and my motivation to offer complete information here might increase if I'm aware of a real audience. Let me know if you find this at all useful. -- DanRasmussen 2012-05-09 07:18:30
PersonalTelcoHandbook, although some information is stale, provides a good overview of how our community wireless group works.
Why is Personal Telco organized as a nonprofit?
As I understand it, this allows people to make tax-deductible monetary donations to Personal Telco. See NonProfitDiscussion and PolicyLinks. (There's also NonProfit - not positive it's worth including here)
I've read that nonprofit status also makes it easier to insure your group - more useful when you get to the fun stage of community wifi: climbing on rooftops!
From ContactUs: "Personal Telco Project is a Federal Tax Exempt 501(c)(3) and an Oregon Non-profit Corporation." I don't know what this means. Anybody?
Unless you're seeking publicity, or trying to change laws, one thing most people and organizations find enjoyable is not being sued. Personal Telco has collected some writing on LegalIssues. Alas, it's not very complete or up-to-date.
Personal Telco started small. A handful of friends setting up wifi AccessPoints and allowing anybody to connect is one thing. A group that promotes network access on a larger scale, the sharing of ideas, the feeling of community, and education is another.
Let people know your network nodes are intentionally open-to-all 1! Our nodes all use "www.personaltelco.net" as the BSSID (hotspot name) - telling people where to get more information. You might want to use our website as your BSSID until you put something of your own together.
Make a map of your hotspots. We have one at http://map.personaltelco.net/ - it's okay, but the software it's based on, WNMap, is heavily oriented towards community wifi geeks. Having a map that serves a general audience would probably be better. See pdxwifimap.com for an alternate take on the hotspot map. It aims to be user-friendly and is based on OpenStreetMap.
Enlarge your group's impact by telling people about it. Personal Telco's Publications might give you some ideas.
Wifi routers used to come this way, and it took knowledge to keep others off your network. It wasn't clear if a hotspot's owner wanted the wifi to be open, or simply "wasn't a computer person." Lately wifi routers tend to come locked-down out-of-box, and it takes time/knowledge/effort to make them open again. (1)