Meraki's inexpensive mesh-routing nodes are a hit: About 15,000 users are connecting to their $50 nodes ($100 for outdoor units) in 25 countries during their testing phase. The company didn't note how many routers were shipped, but it's likely between 1,000 and 2,000 based on their descriptions of density. Meraki's devices cost a tiny fraction of what metro-scale mesh networking equipment costs, and that's partly because they have fewer features and reach much shorter distances, requiring denser installations. But the point isn't necessarily blanketing a city, but rather putting a signal over a neighborhood, a village, or an apartment building. Meraki is a bit like powerline networking: Covering connected areas without a lot of infrastructure. You can listen to an archived podcast interview I conducted in Oct. 2006 with Sanjit Biswas and Hans Robertson, two of the co-founders.
Meraki received very positive coverage in Randall Stross's Digital Domain column yesterday in the New York Times, in which he looks at how the next billion people will be connected to the Internet. Stross compares the efforts of city-wide networks to outdated methods of lighting cities by using huge arc-lights high in the air. He cites a practical test in Portland, Ore., where 400 apartments were served by 100 Meraki routers, which works out to $13 a household for installation, and, Stross writes, about $1 per month per household for Internet access. Because this rollout was in association with a non-profit, that group is obviously dealing with the labor costs of installation, tech support, and maintenance. (Even with a very low failure rate, 100 routers might see a 1% failure per month or higher, especially in high-use conditions.)
Finally, Meraki announced $5m in first-round funding led by Sequoia; other investors weren't noted. GigaOm mentions that Google and Sequoia invested in Fon; Sequoia in Ruckus Wireless; and Benchmark Capital in Whisher.