Meraki Networks announced today that it will deploy a city-wide wireless access network in San Francisco that will provide free broadband Internet access for every neighborhood by the end of the year.

Meraki’s plans are bold considering other large companies, such as EarthLink, saw their Wi-Fi plans flounder last year. Meraki touts its inexpensive routers and backend system that balances the bandwidth demands between the customers and the routers.

"This groundbreaking network in San Francisco will show the world that with Meraki's unique approach to building networks, we can quickly bring broadband Internet access to every city in the world," said Sanjit Biswas, CEO and co-founder of Meraki. "By expanding our San Francisco network, we are creating the largest real-world test network of its kind, where we plan to develop new wireless networking technologies and also test the economics of free, ad-supported Internet access."

In order for Meraki’s network to function, the company needs to install free radio repeaters on customers’ rooftops and homes, although the repeaters are not required for residents who wish to use the network.

Meraki's "Free the Net" program – which launched last year in San Francisco in select neighborhoods and now serves more than 40,000 users – will be the springboard for the city-wide program.

In the first 2 square miles of the project in San Francisco, the network identified and worked around more than 20,000 sources of interference and allowed Meraki to deliver almost 1 Mbps of access to each user.

Meraki, which counts Google as one of its financial backers, also announced today that its second round of funding raised $20 million, which the company will use to cover the remaining 47 square miles of San Francisco with its Wi-Fi service.

More Broadband Direct:

• ACA asks FCC to bar networks from abusing market power 

• Cisco draws a bead on CES 

• Meraki to deploy free Wi-Fi in San Francisco 

• Amimon, Belkin to show wireless HDTV connectivity at CES 

• Vongo, Starz serve up content to Samsung’s P2 portable player 

• STMicroelectronics intros pair of set-top chips 

• Broadband Briefs for 1/04/08