HAYCORN — 6 December 2007

How does Meraki work?

Meraki is ev­i­dently some sort of com­bined wire­less router and ad-supported public wifi provider. The website doesn’t explain how it works very well, though. From what I can gather, it seems that in the standard/normal one-device res­i­den­tial deployment, you plug a Meraki device into your cable modem, and it pro­vides wire­less access to the internet. The dif­fer­ence between this a regular wire­less router is that it offers two sorts of connections: (a) a WPA pass­word pro­tected con­nec­tion that works pretty much exactly the same as a wire­less router; and (b) a public (throttled) connection, open to anyone, that de­liv­ers ads. (You can disable (b).)

Another sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence is that instead of con­fig­ur­ing it via con­nect­ing to a web­server built into the device itself, you use an admin area on meraki.com. So, by design, it “phones home”. I can’t figure out how often it connects, or what in­for­ma­tion it sends and receives. (It must be getting the ads from meraki.com.)

It looks like the ads are served by rewrit­ing HTML–is this correct? And if so, are all other ports untouched? Do https pages work?

The Meraki also sup­ports some wifi mesh system, whereby you can es­sen­tially connect a whole bunch of Meraki devices to power and the in­ter­net (at least one needs an in­ter­net connection), and it will create one big wifi network and figure out how to route traffic from one device to another and finally out onto the internet. But I’m not so in­ter­ested in this bit.

uPNP isn’t sup­ported and port for­ward­ing is dif­fi­cult (maybe im­pos­si­ble on the small­est Meraki).

The Meraki busi­ness model seems to be some­what similar to that of fon–how do they compare?