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Technical Documentation

The PCW Project

Philly Community Wireless (PCW) is a working group of organizers, technologists, academics, public school teachers, and City Hall staffers in Philadelphia. During a time of social distancing and online teaching, roughly half of the city’s public school students lack a wifi connection at home. In certain neighborhoods, even more residents lack any connection to the Internet. We seek to address the city's digital divide with community-owned and -operated mesh network technologies.

Mesh networks allow a single Internet connection to be shared among a broader group of users with very little cost or infrastructure required. With the help of PhillyWisper, a pro-net neutrality, wireless internet service provider, we are working toward installing two pilot sites in Kensington and Fairhill. From there, we will plan participatory design workshops and technical training for the community that will empower them to maintain and grow this free network connection.

The PCW Docs

This docs page provides in-development technical information and guides for replicating the project's configuration and distribution of routers and antennas for building a mesh network.

If you are looking for a non-technical overview of the project, or are interested in signing up for PCW coverage, please visit our homepage.

Scholarly Resources

This page overviews secondary resources on the problems of broadband access and digital inequity in urban cities like Philadelphia.

Collaboration Tools

The Collaboration Tools page overviews the software used by the PCW team.

Required Hardware

Overviews the hardware necessary for the PCW project's infrastructure.

Antenna Installations

This guide overviews the process for installing rooftop antennas as the foundation for the wireless mesh network and free public wifi.

Configure ERX routers

The Configure ERX Routers page explains the stage of setting up the router hosts of rooftop installations.

Static IP

This guide overviews how to set up your computer with a static IP, so you can configure the router and mesh-kit.

Configure AP-Mesh

This guide overviews the set-up of a mesh kit that can be installed in any home in close proximity (half a neighborhood block) to a rooftop antenna host.

Editing the Docs

If you'd like to contribute to PCW's docs, please see our guidelines.