For a while it was assumed that Google wanted to operate a vast wireless network itself as part of its global-domination plan. Looking at Meraki, it’s clear that so long as Google can help spread free Internet access – and get its lucrative search box in front of grateful users – it’s not so particular about who provides the service.
Meraki is a small but interesting vessel for Google’s ambitions. Founded a year ago, the company grew out of research into so-called wireless mesh technology at MIT by its three founders, led by Sanjit Biswas, Meraki’s 25-year-old president and CEO. Wireless mesh allows cheap routers, or repeaters, to form a network by connecting themselves to a high-speed Internet source like a cable modem or DSL line. Meraki sells a $50 router about the size of a bar of soap that allows its user to sponge off nearby connections.