Start-up Meraki to sell solar-powered Wi-Fi gear

The mesh Wi-Fi provider's long-awaited solar power Wi-Fi repeater will be available in December.

Mesh Wi-Fi provider Meraki is going green with a new solar-powered repeater.

Meraki

The company, which builds low-cost and easy-to-manage Wi-Fi gear, said the Meraki Solar Wi-Fi repeater will ship starting December 4. The price of the solar repeater costs between $749 and $1,499.

Sanjit Biswas, co-founder and CEO of Meraki, said he expects customers in developing markets, where power infrastructure is not reliable or nonexistent, to be especially interested in the product. But he said that there has also been interest among customers here in the U.S. and other developed markets.

"Some people might want to set up a Wi-Fi on their roof or somewhere else they don't have power," he said. "And then they realize how much it will cost them to get an electrician to wire that area."

For this reason, Biswas said that the Meraki Solar repeater is ideal for installations in places like city parks. Even the higher initial cost of the solar equipment will still be cheaper than running power to bay stations and radios throughout a large area like Central Park in New York, he said.

Meraki had announced its solar-powered product last year. But the product was delayed when the company decided to change battery types after receiving feedback that the batteries ran out of power too quickly. The company now uses lithium iron-phosphate, which gives it greater capacity. Biswas says the new battery can store enough energy to power the Wi-Fi radios 24 hours a day seven days a week even during times of limited sunlight.

In addition to its solar-powered repeater, Meraki introduced a new Wi-Fi radio wall plug, which features a hole to screw the unit to an outlet. The design is part of Meraki's push to sell its gear to apartment buildings and complexes. The company has been experimenting with product designs and ideas for better coverage in multiple dwelling units as part of the free network it offers to San Francisco.

Earlier this year, Meraki announced it would help the city provide free Internet access to low-income housing projects as part of its plan to unwire every neighborhood in San Francisco. Meraki, which is based in the Bay Area, sees the San Francisco Wi-Fi network as an important test bed for its products and services .

 

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