We have 2 networks live, one in rural Oregon and one in Medellin, Colombia. Also, 4 more networks people are currently pre-registering subscribers for in their communities, for example https://althea.net/hilltop.
Ironically I went back to the 2015 thread and found much the same "shameless plug", minus the Blockchain.
You're implying that there is something shameful with providing a market for connectivity which allows for people who can't afford to work for free to participate. What is shameful about this?
Anyone "forwarding" packets from a connection to an ISP is almost certainly in breach of contract.
Amateur packet radio service regulations state that you may not use it for applications that are available over commercial services.
You can buy resaleable backhaul it's just a drag and expensive. NYC mesh gets free resaleable backhaul and it's a key thing for them.
> Amateur packet radio service regulations state that you may not use it for applications that are available over commercial services.
point to point long distance antennas on free spectrum are commercially usable and more than adequate https://www.ui.com/products/#airmax
I feel like this is the key differentiator between community mesh projects that succeed and those that don't.
At the end of the day, without backhaul you're just saturating a few donors' residential bandwidth.
Edit: can't reply because rate limited or something. My point is that relying on good will doesn't scale.
Why/how is it free? How much is it typically? Do all/most cities have "backhaul" easily available? Isn't backhaul owned by ISPs as well and basically like a fat pipe?
A barrage of questions, but I'm quite interested!
Sometimes but not always, the Tier 2 internet market is acutally quite competitive and usually you can get fiber from a couple of providers within 50 miles of any location in the US (5 or less if it's reasonably populated). The problem of course is to be an ISP you have to deliver the traffic that last few miles.
This whole thing is further obfuscated by the fact that the entire infrastructure market is very human powered. Few providers provide public maps and in order to find these fiber connections you literally have to know the right people. The internet has automated everything but those people building and maintaining the backbone still need sales calls to tell you where they can connect and a bribe before you get a good price.
I'm not up to date on prices.
Backhaul is 'just' another connection but without the same contractual restrictions as you'll usually find on normal subscriber connections.
You'll find it used in at least two different ways: as a synonym of transit to talk about a way for your ISP to connect to any other ISP via the provider they get it from, and as a means of having an access provider forward last mile traffic to one or more central locations.
But in both cases it just suggests that you have agreed with a provider to forward traffic for your users on your behalf.
2) They're using unlicensed spectrum, not amateur radio.
If they were running over licensed spectrum, the FCC would have shut them down in the US.
Please know what you're talking about before providing legal advice.
Babel has been very reliable and we haven't really made any changes beyond our extensions. The price extension probably isn't appropriate to upstream. I'll admit I've been remiss up-streaming the full path latency extension.
Ask away as far as other questions go.
Essentially we use Eth because we don't really need a 'cryptocurrency' as much as we need an api for cash where very small payments (10c) are practical. For reasons that I explain in the presentation the key simplifying assumption of low fee transactions makes a simple billing scheme (pay per forward) work.
When I had looked into it, these resources had been helpful for research:
Wireless Networking in the Developing world -- http://wndw.net/ -- A useful guidebook on the tech needed for large scale community mesh networks
Guifi.net -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guifi.net -- A huge wireless mesh in Spain, there's a linked economic report in the references that's very good but may be unavailable at the moment. It may have been, or be contained within, "The Cook Report on Internet Protocol" Volume XX1, No, 12 & XXII, No 1 March April 2013
ISSN 1071 - 6327. The report is very long and covers quite a bit of the social and technical challenges faced by Guifi.net
My partner and I are NOLA based programmers / lawyers who have been researching this matter for a few years. We own the domain nolamesh.net and would love to work with you to navigate the political / legal / business issues to deploy a similar network in the New Orleans metro area. Please reach out to us at email@example.com
and let's set up a meeting.
A buddy of mine used to run such a network spanning 3 villages with about 400 customers a bunch of years back. I seem to remember one of the directional antennas was strategically placed in some church tower.
They ran this as a two people operation. Extreme weather also was a problem for them, and they essentially learned network design by trial and error, starting out as a fully bridged network where everybody was in the same 10.0.0.0/8, NATed to the outside. They fixed that later. Customers only got like 3-4MBit/s from this mesh, which wasn't exactly fast but not too shabby either back then, especially considering the only alternative those villagers had was ISDN speeds (128kbit/s max I think). No LTE yet either.
They weren't alone either. There was a huge number of such operators who shared knowledge etc.
Once he started negotiating with those villages to lay fiber and provide DSL service all of the sudden the Telekom started fibering up "his" villages.
5mbps down/2mbps up is what I get for $79/month, and I've learned to live with it. The only other option is satellite internet with restrictive usage caps. We used to have another competitor in the space but after big floods in 2013 they exited our area.
More seriously, I'm impressed at that consistency. I've always heard that that type of connection tends to be iffy, so it's interesting to know that my preconceptions may have been wrong.
Also, I think my buddy oversubscribed the lines. And had some file sharing/fair use clause that customers needed to agree to and abide by. They didn't really do traffic shaping/DPI stuff, so once in a while they had to call or visit (when in the area anyway) the parents of some kid who just had discovered the wonders of bittorrent maxing out their allotted chunk of the bandwidth 24/7.
So yes, they bought some "business internet" from that provider, quite a lot of it. Wasn't cheap, but wasn't too expensive as they got hat provider to see the reason in "either you quote us prices we can pay, and we both make some money, or you don't and then neither of us does".
To get connected to NYC Mesh, you’ll need a line of sight from your rooftop or balcony to one of our supernodes or hubs. Check our map to see if you're in the network coverage zone. And if you’re not yet in range, keep checking back as our network is always expanding, or volunteer to help us grow towards your neighborhood.
So this means that if you are in a condo you can't use it?
I'm planning on getting my Technicians HAM license sometime soon (I took one of the online practice tests "blind" and scored an 80 - so with some study it shouldn't be a problem).
Maybe after that if I can find some like-minded people nearby...
I suspect the Amateur HAMmers would detect and enforce that: I imagine there are HAM goonsquads.
That said, ham radio is a fun hobby regardless. If you are into IP stuff on ham radio, it's not too hard to get an ip on the ham IP block /8.
Amateur radio does have a tradition of self enforcement which is part of my the FCC continues to grant privileges. People practice RDF for fun but I know people who have used to to find people intentionally interfering with other stations.
NYC Mesh pays for it through donations. Last I checked they were trying to setup a 501c3 to manage this, unsure of the status though.
Years ago all Minsk was covered by volunteer maintained local ethernet networks, I was accessing internet through one. Today most of them are bought out by commercial providers, some turned into providers themselves.
You could then pay for Internet traffic or enjoy local neighbourhood network resources for free. People would build local websites, chat rooms, message boards, fileshares, gaming. It was pretty good for the time and I was surprised to find that in the UK/US there had not been such a development, perhaps because of better pre-existing infrastructure.
Althea - Portland - https://althea.net
Freifunk - Germany - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freifunk
Open Wireless - Global - https://openwireless.org
That is an excellent point. Mesh nets may be vulnerable to being monitored over the internet. I have not read the article, but I hope these groups are building privacy into their protocol.
I have wanted to build something like this for decade now. It is inspiring to hear about their success.
I did make the disclaimer that I have not read the article for the sake of transparency and humility. I probably will later this week, but the only spare time I have has been spent responding to this thread :-P
Anyway, if you are making your own mesh that does not require you to have access to an ISP, then maybe you make that mesh over something other than IP. If you did use something other than IP, that would not prevent any of the nodes from including IP in their networking stack. In that scenario, a human user of the mesh might believe that they are completely off the grid / internet, but surprise, all their traffic or leaked metadata is actually being aggregated over the internet because one of the nodes is connected.
I mainly brought this up because it popped into my head and I thought it might make for an interesting discussion. Also, because I have thought about making a distributed mesh network that does not use IP where nodes communicate via HAM radio.
Mesh Design: https://docs.nycmesh.net/networking/mesh/
Supernode Architecture: https://docs.nycmesh.net/networking/supernode-architecture/
It's a bit of a reminder of what the internet actually is - a bunch of networks connected together. If you make your own network, negotiate or purchase a piece of the IPv6 address space, and convince someone to connect to you and exchange BGP routes then you are part of it.
I wonder how hard it is to join an IXP and how much it costs?
The network engineering world is very different from software. Relationships are everything and the pricing very opaque. Often pricing and lists of “who is in the building” are even behind NDA. If you are an “eyeball network” (more downloads than uploads) your transit costs will be much cheaper if you know how to negotiate, for example.
Is that $700 a minute, month or something else?
The idea was roughly this:
Such a large portion of wifi equipment sold at the time had the SSID "Linksys" and no password. So everyone's devices had a saved setting to connect to that, even if we later configured our networks differently.
Therefore it's super convenient if you just call your guest network that. When you actually have guests over, chances are good that their devices will automatically use your wifi with zero hassles whatsoever.
(Also implied but unspoken: The existence of this craptastic webpage explaining the Linksys Community Network Project is plausible deniability if you get caught using someone else's open wifi that they shared out of ignorance rather than because they read this page and agreed with it.)
Ah! Of course! https://web.archive.org/web/20030402170927/http://www.linksy...
There are only downsides for me, but I think they are limited:
- My router lets me set the bandwidth limits for the guest network. I set it to 10Mbps down/1Mbps up which is unnoticeable.
- My ISP has no data caps.
- The laws here are not draconian
It looks like this concept is super old: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/01/my_open_wirel...
If you were a crook, would you use a random open wifi for your illegal stuff? Wouldn't you use Tor or some proxy on top of that?
Most of their defense is based on the assumption that you have all the same protections as a network operator. However, as the article points out, this has never been tested in court. So you might be fine, and you might go to jail, we don't know.
And even if you do get network operator status, there are still legal notices and copyright systems you have to comply with.
And thats all just copyright. That article doesn't deal with more serious online crimes.
If the FBI finds someone downloading child porn from your network, you will be arrested. You will have to convince the police that it was someone else. Even if you don't end up with any serious penalties, that's a hell of a lot more hassle than I'm willing to put up with.
While I don't know anything about the US market, I also wonder what is the motivation to make this project at home instead of mobile-based. Since we all have super-powerful computers in our pockets, it seems to me that we could have an easier similar solution using a smartphone mesh, especially in big and crowded cities?
Also, it would probably require rooting the phone to install the necessary routing software.
There are a whole host of other reasons but those two are the easiest to explain.
Yeah, 350 is less then a block of customers for Comcast or Verizon. When only few people are involved everything is great, try to scale this bigger then you'll the real shit go down. It's human condition, individually we are smart, but when in large groups we're stupid.
Either larger groups or more of them, or both.
1000 subscribers, dedicated support person
At some point these community efforts must grow back into a company again, right? And the cycle repeats
(a) Not necessarily, it might turn into a non-profit organisation, a cooperative, or something “akin”.
(b) Nothing wrong with companies either. Although I (and many others) would prefer option (a), a fairer company that respects its customers’ needs and rights is very welcome!
I pay around $14 monthly for 100 Mbps connection from a corporate internet provider (which typically gives me around 20 Mbps download and upload when I test). No installation fee and free equipment. Same internet, but from a different country. Is the internet connection in the NYC Mesh really that much faster?
I wonder how expensive a 10GB uplink from Terremark would set me back.
then in April 2019, managed to avoid getting kicked out by agreeing to expansion and paying a fine: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/04/charter-avoids-g...
FTTH would be faster but San Francisco doesn’t seem that interested in wiring fiber to SFHs.
The network doesn’t seem to have an issue with fog or rain (my home might be in a particularly good spot for it).
If so, that's why.
NYC Mesh is having a different problem with very heavy rain where two of our high speed point-to-point connections (60GHz and 24GHz) will go down for like 20 minutes in very heavy rain. We're working on fixing this.
Like... a bank? I mean, you're talking as if the infrastructure for paying someone money in return for providing you with a good or service is a wild west territory. It's, er, pretty well established.
> you're back at square one where it basically becomes an ISP.
Well, a non-profit ISP, which is an important difference. The non-profit nature makes a much bigger difference to customers than the mesh nature of distribution does.
The article says there's a "backhaul" that connects the althea network to the internet. I understand this means the community will then need just one subscription to the internet, as opposed to n, so it's cheaper. But doesn't this mean that every user in the network will experience vastly slower connection than if they had their own internet subscription?
The backhaul connections that ISPs resell (and that are sold into Althea networks) are usually around 10x the price of a residential connection with the same advertised speed.
It's the difference between "it is technically possible for this connection to attain this bandwidth" and "you are guaranteed this bandwidth at all times"
I don't quite see why ISP's would treat a commerical subscription to an Althea network differently than a residential network.
Sure, if an ISP knows that the Althean network is trying to optimally squeeze the most out of the backhaul, then it makes sense to increase the price. But in that case, surely an Althea network would never "reveal" itself?
Turns out that isn't quite the case...
I don't think they are threatening jobs at this point. I assume if it grows big, they will likely have to hire someone and pay them.
Volunteer-based initiatives can turn into companies if they're successful. Hopefully that's the case here.
At very worst, this sort of volunteer operation will not change the relationship the workers have with their labor and only change who's paying them to do it.
That being said. Cooperatives do have executive classes and they do soak up value from labor
Also traditional for profit companies would theoretically allow local stakeholders to reap profits but I do agree that due to unjust sec rules about accredited investors designed to protect the rich, this can not happen
I definitely did imply that they had no executive class, though, which is wrong.
Well, of course. Giving away unlimited supplies of money without earning it is a privilege only the federal government has. Non-profit companies also cannot create money out of thin air. While non-profits can endeavor to create jobs as their primary mission, I have yet to see a non-profit that can actually create a job without first earning the money itself, whether through actually doing something or working to fundraise.
> I guess it is difficult to compete given laws and/or regulations, so running a new such company for-profit would be too difficult?
It doesn't even need to be for-profit. I suppose I should have clarified. It could be non-profit too. It's the all-volunteerness that I object to. The sorts of things done by volunteers here are actually jobs, that should be compensated. The receivers of the internet ought to be okay paying for it to pay for these people's livelihoods.
They do pay for it. But there are not currently enough subscribers to make hiring someone worthwhile or affordable. Hopefully that will change in time.