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The alternative Internet, WiFi based (omegasdg.com)
230 points by tawm on June 18, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments



I don't mean to be insulting, but this looks like it was hatched up by a high school teenager with no experience or skills in setting up metropolitan-scale networks, let alone a "second" Internet.

No security, & contrary to the webpage's claims completely touchable and jammable. Unless you had a ridiculous amount of wireless access points deployed, destroying one node would have a significant effect (again, contrary to what the webpage sees).


Actually, I'm not sure why the website doesn't mention that, but we were aware of that. Our lack of experience in security was one of the factors in why we didn't continue further.

- Paul, OmegaSDG


The major problem with this proposal is scalability.

"Repeater mode" is usually WDS or a logical client bridge+AP. This is entirely layer 2, has no routing, no useful path metrics, and is completely unsuited for a network larger than a few nodes if you want any sort of reliability/usability.

True meshing algorithms like 802.11s or BATMAN can optimize the mesh topology, but you're still on one huge broadcast domain. The proposal needs to establish a means to restrict the size of these domains - convert each node (or a subset of supernodes) into "routers", and roll out a routing protocol which is optimized to this type of ad-hoc, organic deployment.

The other problem with scaling (no matter what your meshing algorithm does) is the half-duplex nature of RF - if you're doing this with single-radio SOHO routers, you're going to lose half of your throughput per hop. I run two 500-node muni WiFi nets, and we try never to exceed 2 hops between a node and its backhaul gateway - any more and you're in the sub-1Mbps range on 802.11g rates.

Fix these problems and you may be on to something. Of course you also need to bridge geographic gaps somehow.


If you're serious about global wireless mesh networking, you need to switch to different tech for inter-node links. Offer WiFi taps into the network to support the commonly available hardware, but use HF or VHF to link nodes.

Sure, the bandwidth will be really poor, but you have to make a few sacrifices, and the robustness of the network explodes as the range of each individual node increases. Besides, in that kind of doomsday scenario nobody will be using a darknet to watch Hulu.


I agree that one has to make a few sacrifices but I don't see projects like this one as a doomsday failsafe internet; rather as an attempt to get a REALLY free internet. I am afraid we are going to need that in the next 5-10 years.


Then you'll have to get clever and run massively parallel wireless links on adjacent frequencies. WiFi is not the way to make a single true, real mesh internet all over the world.

Of course, suddenly I find myself considering something... wireless uses wildly more power than wired connections. Is a global wireless mesh really a responsible goal?


For a mesh network like this to succeed there has to be a killer app built on the platform. And I'll tell you what it is -- a free wifi telecom network. A complete replacement for the telecom networks run by megacorps could be the technology disruption of the century.


Like, say, http://fon.com?


No, there's no mesh networking going on there, the devices would still require the internet. A voip mesh network would be independent and decentralized.


Single company network requiring proprietary closed source routers? No use to me.


Hm, aren't they using Linux after all?



Pimp pimp.

These guys are doing this for real, and their setup is getting pretty good. Based on BATMAN for their meshing.

Not to mention that Project Serval is coming along nicely, so your android devices can happily mesh with these nodes too...


Probably you're talking about http://guifi.net (only in Spain AFAIK). They've got more than 13k operating nodes in a completely 'independent of Internet' wifi network, but they also have gateways and proxies for Internet access.


You have a good point. Like I said in another comment here, I think there will be companies to thrive on this new type of network. I also believe that in the end, Wi-Fi is a disruptive technology to 3G/4G technologies, and once it's everywhere and, perhaps always-on, it will quickly become the defacto network connection for a lot of mobile users.

In a way it's already there, but I think it has 2 issues right now: battery life and not being on by default. Although, battery life for 4G connections is probably even worse than Wi-Fi.


I agree about the killer app, but was thinking of movie sharing instead, for mass appeal. Imagine if you could stream any DVD one of your neighbors has, for free.


Unfortunately everybody becomes your neighbour then


Two words: benevolent virus.


It sounds really cool. The first question I'd try to address is to make sure the protocol is really up to the task, because if you implement this and it doesn't work...

Can a typical router running an ad-hoc wifi network like this really handle provision of Internet to an entire city, and furthermore, is the current 'repeater' protocol the most efficient way to do this?

One of the biggest structural problems with darknets is that of "necking", where one large subset of nodes is only connected to another large subset of nodes through a relatively small subset of nodes. Usually the problem is compounded by the the difficulty for nodes in either subset to discover each other in a network which attempts to be anonymous. Freenet and WASTE both encountered this.

The ability to automatically find Kleinrock routers within a certain distance of you might mitigate this, but it could also affect the security of the network.


I think Wi-fi mesh networks are the only way we can have close to fully decentralized Internet. Ideally the new "Internet" would work completely P2P from one user to the next, either from router to router or from mobile phone to mobile phone. But the technology will probably not be very practical this decade, but I could see it catching on in "niche" markets, like in oppressed countries, and then grow organically from there.


By oppressed countries, do you mean those that enact laws that enable the government to censor parts of the internet and/or deny citizens access to the internet as a whole? Like, for example, England and France? (And perhaps soon the US as well?) If so, I'm not sure that counts as a "niche" market!


I think that this seems more suited for urban areas in the US, France, and England more than blatantly oppressive countries. I'd imagine that if this caught on somewhere more seriously oppressed by its governments, a few guys with guns would start driving around with a laptop and knocking on doors:

"Excuse me, sir, but there seems to be a wi-fi network originating in your house with the name 'Kleinrock-Node.' Come with us please."


In these countries, despite nominally censored traffic, the majority is not routinely prevented from doing what it wants to do. Facebook is (and will continue to be) available, as will Google, and email services, and nearly everything else of interest to most people. "Oppressed", in this context, refers to places where people are intensely aware of censorship. This daily, universal annoyance could be a much better catalyst for the creation of distributed systems than is the violation of a far-removed moral (or even practical) principle.


I was thinking lately that it seems that in time new companies appear that have the incentive to move things forward.

For example, Google has the incentive to make the web as fast as possible because they are mainly a web company, so it's in their interest to do that, while for Microsoft and Apple, the web might not be their first priority, and at times they might even try to restrict it, so it prolongs the survival of their own platforms.

In the same time, I was thinking about Facebook's Project Spartan, and how they have an incentive to create a webstore that works on all platforms, while Google's incentive is to have it work only on Chrome, or more recently to have some of their services work only on Android. In this case it would be both's Google's and Apple's incentives, to keep us as locked in as possible on their platforms, while it's Facebook's incentive to liberate us from the locked platforms.

And this is where I wanted to get. I think there will be companies that will appear in the future, that will have the incentive to make a fully decentralized P2P Internet work, and once again none of the "old" giants, whether it's Facebook, Google, or even Apple and Microsoft, will like this idea. For example, both Facebook and Google would hate the idea of a completely anonymized Internet, because that goes directly in the opposite direction from their profit incentive. But, like I said, I think there will be companies that will be able to make that work in their favor, and thrive from it as it becomes their main profit incentive to support it.


Seattlewireless.net has been trying to do this for eleven years. Progress has not been enormously fast.


one could say... backwards.


We also have a big community Germany that has been using wifi mesh networks and ad-hoc routing protocols since 2003: http://wiki.freifunk.net/Kategorie:English

Though all of these networks are very impressive, I don't think they can replace the big ISPs in case some one shuts down the Internet completely.


This was my first startup. We were going to use wireless mesh networks to "bridge the digital divide" and provide broadband to the (at the time -- 2005) 40% of Americans in rural America that didn't have it.

I've always lumped this under the "too idealistic" startup destined to be a nonprofit. Rural America is broke, for the most part, and our margins were going to be razor thin -- even using commodity wifi gear. I only ever got one angel interested, mainly because they all thought the market was bad. We never really got it off the ground. Perhaps skipping the backhaul altogether, (like the linked article), would have made it viable. But honestly I'm not sure I could have sold faux-internet, which is what most people are going to think of this. As it was the only way we were able to get a town interested was to uncover grant money that would have covered most of the costs and let us subsidize prices (see non-profit thing above).

But there were other challenges. Mainly wifi is just not that great over big distances. And it's absorbed by water -- so trees are a big problem. Also one of the most requested apps was VOIP, and the latency on a mesh network makes VOIP kinda crummy. As we built out the financial model, we learned that there was a lower limit to the density of a community that would support a profit. It ruled out most markets. And to make matters even worse, when we did find communities that met our already ridiculous criteria we usually had problems finding a backhaul. For our pilot town we were going to create a point to point wireless connection over 20 miles from the nearest major population center. Yeah, we gave up, graduated, and got jobs.

It's also worth knowing that wifi in major urban centers doesn't really work. There just isn't enough frequency to go around, so the interference makes it pointless. At the time Clearwire (now just Clear) was buying up spectrum in city markets. I thought it was genius, but I always doubted the wimax standard would live up to the hype. I remembered we had a point-to-multipoint wireless 56K connection back in the mid 90's and that was shit. I figured things would get better, but the basic problem remains the same: you can only really jam so many connections into one point, and you need LOS. Of course cell phones seem to work fairly well, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about. But Clear doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation.

Alright, so here are some links to other mesh networking projects that have been around for a long time and have software that is actually deployed:

http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/roofnet/doku.php (seems to be slightly broken, but working mostly)

http://www.cuwireless.net/ (interned here, really smart guys built this and they have a running network in Champaign-Urbana).

Also recently the feds opened up a bunch of spectrum, so I'm really hopeful about what we can do with it. 2.4 just isn't enough.

Edit: Highly recommend following @saschameinrath He's a genius and has been a champion of community wireless internet since the term was invented. He also started CUWIN.


We tried this in rural Virginia as well. We got non profit status, circulated surveys and petitions and got some gear to start the roll-out. Everyone was super excited and called us community heroes. When the time came to actually sign up, and the rural-ites found out that the service would be 39.99/month, it turned out that dial-up suited them just fine after all.


You should have tried rural areas in Ontario. Wireless providers are making a killing signing people up for 60 or 70 dollars per month, not counting hardware purchases and installation.


This is such an old project. Myself and a group of friends cooked this up some time around late June of 2010, but once the novelty wore off, we realized it probably wasn't feasible. Like a few people here have stated, wifi repeaters simply can't provide enough range and transfer speed to reliably cover more than a very small area.

I'm not sure how you dredged this up, but I'm flattered. Maybe someone taking a whack at a similar project can learn from our approach.

- Michael, OmegaSDG


The bandwidth required for cell phones is much lower, and the multiplexing schemes much more complex. Cell phones use a lot of extremely adaptive variable bit-rate codecs, which is why your call quality varies as you drive.

But fundamentally, they are using VBR codecs that don't even live up to the standard 3.1 KHz PCM bearer spectrum of a fixed-line 64kbps DS0 channel. This is what, maybe 8 kbps (extrapolating from the relatively high quality to bandwidth ratio of something like G.729A, though they're obviously not using that)? That's hugely different than providing multi-megabit access to every endpoint, even with severe oversubscription and statistical packet multiplexing / low contention ratios on the table. This is one of the reasons why 3G network operators are so freaked out about tethering and data usage in general.

Like you said, there's only so much frequency. This "the world's gonna go wireless" stuff is a pipe dream. The enthusiasm for all forms of fixed-line communication will return with great fanfare once application-level bandwidth requirements increase an order of magnitude or two beyond where they are now, because fixed-line transmission is the only thing that can keep up at that point.


The funny thing about parts of rural america is that if the utility is a local (local phone company) and not Qwest, you can often get some seriously fast internet. Some town in ND have fibre to the home with pretty damn nice speed.


Ignoring all the other problems: where is the uplink? Are you really going to try to get from, say, NYC to Mountain view over this network? (Nevermind crossing any oceans...)


If this came into effect using commercial hardware, you'd probably end up seeing cluster networks where neighborhoods become isolated mesh networks. Some people may acquire the capacity to link between different mesh networks, but in general most networks would lack the ability to get from NYC to mountain view.


Wireless community mesh networks are really cool stuff. The problem I think is that there seems to be very little cooperation between different networks. Many seem to run completely custom/unique software/hardware/protocols -combinations. Of course I realize that this is quite bleeding edge stuff, so some experimentation and exploration is necessary. But I just hope that some day (not too far in the future) the necessary hardware/software -combination to connect to such networks would be commodity and for that we need standardization.

edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hoc_routing_protocol_list


This was my third and fourth startup. Having failed twice by lack of funding I learned to do without and what people want.

Free anonymous internet you want to pay for: Ambient Connectivity. After 20 years of hard work I am about to roll out a much more ambitious approach:

- free gsm for mobile phones in a square mile - free Wifi for smartphones/tablets/laptops - 'campus' network with your neigbours with 1 - 10 Gb/s ethernet links over optical fiber or UTP cable - free shared storage of tv, movies, music - end-to-end encryption and anonymity in the clients, not the network - users buy the routers $100 ($1000 rural) and the 2-4 cables - Open ISP sells 1000 Mb/s traffic at $4 to pay for the backbone and the free traffic (1 Mb/s per user). - Open ISP can not control anything and proves this by allowing the community to audit their routers

A first-mile network with free mobile and wifi traffic on top of a 1-10 Gbps optical fiber (and UTP) last mile with an non-profit ISP behind it. Crucial is the $100 mesh router I designed, a 10 GBps optical 8 core router with wifi and picocell built in, capable of software radio with. We also use off the shelf DD-WRT and PicoBSD based $50 routers. Without the cheap 10 Gb/s the community network will be too slow. We must compete with FTTH and the telco's. Stringing optical fiber over private property (farms, backyards, roofs, between appartements) is key to the freedom part. This will be my fourth commercial internet provider, one is now big. merik@eigenglasvezel.net Co-fonders wanted.


This was my second and third startup. Having failed twice (no funding) I learned to do without. After 20 years of hard work I am about to roll out a much more ambitious approach:

Free anonymous internet you want to pay for: Ambient Connectivity.

- free gsm for mobile phones in a square mile - free Wifi for smartphones/tablets/laptops - 'campus' network with your neigbours with 1 - 10 Gb/s ethernet links over optical fiber or UTP cable - free shared storage of tv, movies, music - end-to-end encryption and anonymity in the clients, not the network - users buy the routers $100 ($1000 rural) and the 2-4 cables - Open ISP sells 1000 Mb/s traffic at $4 to pay for the backbone and the free traffic (1 Mb/s per user). - Open ISP can not control anything and proves this by allowing the community to audit their routers

A first-mile network with free mobile and wifi traffic on top of a 1-10 Gbps optical fiber (and UTP) last mile with an non-profit ISP behind it. Crucial is the $100 mesh router I designed, a 10 GBps optical 8 core router with wifi and picocell built in, capable of software radio with. We also use off the shelf DD-WRT and PicoBSD based $50 routers. Without the cheap 10 Gb/s the community network will be too slow. We must compete with FTTH and the telco's. Stringing optical fiber over private property (farms, backyards, roofs, between appartements) is key to the freedom part. This will be my fourth commercial internet provider. merik@eigenglasvezel.net Co-fonders wanted to built a viral website and unix (routing) code.


This was my third and fourth startup. Having failed twice by lack of funding I learned to do without and what people want.

Free anonymous internet you want to pay for: Ambient Connectivity. After 20 years of hard work I am about to roll out a much more ambitious approach:

(1) free gsm for mobile phones in a square mile. (2) free Wifi for smartphones/tablets/laptops. (3) 'campus' network with your neigbours with 1 - 10 Gb/s ethernet links over optical fiber or UTP cable. (4) free shared storage of tv, movies, music. (5) end-to-end encryption and anonymity in the clients, not the network, no logon. (6) users buy the routers $100 ($1000 rural) and the 2-4 cables.(7) Open ISP sells 1000 Mb/s traffic at to pay for the backbone and the free traffic (1 Mb/s per user). (8) Open ISP can not control anything and proves this by allowing the community to audit their routers

A first-mile network with free mobile and wifi traffic on top of a 1-10 Gbps optical fiber (and UTP) last mile with an non-profit ISP behind it. Crucial is the $100 mesh router I designed, a 10 GBps optical 8 core router with wifi and picocell built in, capable of software radio with. We also use off the shelf DD-WRT and PicoBSD based $50 routers. Without the cheap 10 Gb/s the community network will be too slow. We must compete with FTTH and the telco's. Stringing optical fiber over private property (farms, backyards, roofs, between appartements) is key to the freedom part. This will be my fourth commercial internet provider, one is now big. merik@eigenglasvezel.net Co-fonders wanted.


My apologies for the triple post. I did wait a while after the first post. As It did not show in the list, I reposted. My bad.


Why not start simple? I would really like to see wireless mesh networks replace Comcast and co for last-mile connections. The backbone works fine, and there is plenty of competition among Tier 1 ISPs. It's the last-mile providers which are often abusive local monopolies (or duopolies).

That would solve a real, current problem and save consumers money, instead of trying to preempt the highly speculative possibility that our government would want to shut down the internet.

Also, just local wireless mesh has plenty of technical challenges. As other posters have noted, significant challenges stem from both sparsely populated areas (link distance) and densely populated ones (interference, spectrum limitations). There has been significant research into overcoming these limitations--see, for example, MIT's RoofNet and UIUC's CuWIN.

One project I think is especially interesting is Phil Levis' research at Stanford, studying full-duplex wireless. For the first time, they have nodes that can receive and transmit on the same channel at the same time. This (almost) doubles max throughput, but more importantly, it solves a lot of difficult interference problems (particularly the "hidden node" problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_node_problem).

There's also a hard, unsolved software problem: how to route traffic effectively on a large mesh of unreliable, low-throughput routers. No existing routing protocol that I know of (RIP, OSPF, BGP, etc) is well-suited for this.

I would love to see a startup built around last-mile wireless. They could, for example, use commodity PicoStations along with high-gain antennas. The hard part would be nailing the business model and the software. Both are fascinating problems.


This is interesting...it's also something I have always thought about. Ever since the green revolution of Iran when the gov't shut down the networks, I had thought that the solution might be some sort of large scale mesh network that can be built en-masse.

The problem is, ok say we can get a mesh network using commodity routers within Iran up and working...how do the packets get out of Iran ?

Do you then setup mesh nodes/connections with the surrounding countries and then route traffic through their backbones ?

But what if those networks are also taken offline ?

I am not being sarcastic, but this is something that I have seriously thought about and haven't found a solution. If someone has a suggestion, that would be awesome.

Also, how do you build cross-Atlantic mesh networks with commodity hardware ?

i.e. say the underwater fiber cables to India are cut again, like they were last year or the year before, how does this system work in that case ?


The idea is not necessarily to build a global network from the start. But to have some means of communication within a local area, or between several local areas once they do kill the Internet. That kind of Internet is still better than no Internet at all.


I don't see in that wiki references to similar projects, for example http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freifunk which is used in areas of Germany. I heard the traffic in such networks can slow them down until barely usable.


Although I absolutely love this idea, I don't see it taking off without a critical mass of users (i.e. right now there is no Kleinrock router nearby that I can connect mine to). The only way I see this gaining critical mass is to piggyback it on some other device that people buy. e.g. build an open-source box that you sell to people, and that basically becomes your local email/calendar/webhosting/social network hub/file sharing/whatever server, and then hook it up to others who have bought similar servers. I feel that there's enough demand for that kind of a server now that people realize the pitfalls of having everything under Apple/Google/Amazon control. And if there isn't yet, there soon will be.

(Edited a few times for clarity)


I agree, but I do think it seems to have a limited appeal within urban areas, then tunneling connections between server nodes in other cities over the regular internet. The tunneling between cities is still vulnerable, but when it gets cut off there will still be a way of communicating. The nice thing about this when localized to large urban areas is that the cost per capita shrinks. I'd imagine it wouldn't be too expensive to set up a bunch of routers that weren't online. Quick Google seems to suggest that a router tends to cost around $1-2 per month in electricity, plus an up front cost. Create a Kleinrock ecosystem in a section of a city would not necessarily require a large number of people adopting it, but rather a manageable start up cost plus maintenance, which seems almost reasonable.

Of course, if a few people are paying for it, you'll still need people to actually use your wacky science project, which may or may not happen... If you build it, will they come?


I would like to see some sort of mesh network which is built into firmware like Tomato, with options to opt in of course.


I don't think this idea has a real potential for several reasons.

You cannot connect the networks of America and Europe with a WiFi router, so you'll need some more serious hardware. This hardware should be maintained by somebody. And so you have the ISPs again.

In the moment only a geek can setup a Kleinrock router. Imagine your neighbor who can barely coupe with the simple task of opening "the Internet" (or "the blue E") setting up the router, installing and configuring a firewall.

I seriously doubt that home routers are enough for a bigger traffic than couple of computers. Just look what cheap pieces of shit the ISPs are giving now. Of course you can buy a better one, but that's not what the majority of people will do...


To create another internet you need another medium. Today everything that is connected to the internet shares a physical cable or a short wifi hop to a cable.

Unless you want to build out an entire secondary network of cables (fiber, copper) there will not be a 'second internet'.

Their idea is to have the shared medium be airspace. This would almost be feasible with a ton of satellites, but not using peer-to-peer repeaters and ad-hoc networks.

Now - if you could figure out how to do communication over power lines through major power grids, you would be onto something. There are some household devices that can do this, but not between households.


Did anyone notice how this is similar to the Xnet proposed in the cory doctorow novel Little Brother. Actually this is exactly that but just not running on an array of XBoxes.


Yes, but he certainly wasn't the first one to come up with this idea.


Depending on the country and region, this will only be regional networks separated by distance and non-connectivity, except where these networks tie into the Internet. Not to say it wouldn't be good to communicate with your neighbors or fellow freedom fighters, but I can't see it competing noticeably with the Internet.


With most existing hardware, sure, but it's not as though we haven't had the ability to communicate wirelessly across large distances for many decades.


  but it's not as though we haven't had the ability to 
  communicate wirelessly across large distances for many decades.
It's possible to communicate, but the question is of bandwidth. AMPRnet[1] has existed since 1970, after all, it owns the class A 44 netblock, but you're not going to be watching Youtube at 9600 baud.

1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMPRNet


See here, in a democracy we can tell our federal government, which is made up of our citizens, and employs a good number of them, to build an "information interstate" system. Or even better, we can induce our states to build a federation of networks, and just keep that one less thing out of the federal 10-gallons.


"Switch your router into open mode (no password or encryption)": I feel like the lack of encryption really needs to be addressed here. I'm not going to use a network where anyone on it can see my information as they pass it along, and I think many other users would feel the same way.


Phantom protocol and Freedombox projects want to use encryption. So far, I think the Phantom protocol is the best designed and most bulletproof, at least in theory.

http://code.google.com/p/phantom/

But I haven't seen the creator say much about making it work on Wi-Fi mesh networks, though he did say it's pretty flexible and could be easily upgraded to work with new technologies.

Freedombox is pretty interesting, too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7IpqrtC2lk

I also like the ideas behind http://mondonet.org/ , but so far I haven't seen anything technical about it. They're supposed to launch it next month, last I heard. There are actually a lot of related projects:

http://www.quora.com/What-projects-and-initiatives-are-under...


This could be a real problem, because for example in Germany it is illegal to have a WiFi connection, which is not password protected. The idea is that if they catch you downloading pirated songs, you cannot say - it wasn't me. Stupid but...


This is simply not true. If you make your connection available, all you have to do is register yourself as an ISP with RegTP, the federal regulation agency, and you instantly get all the protections that are awarded to other carriers. But of course, you might also get some duties...


You still have encryption at the application layer.


Yes, and that is likely the best solution for those who know enough to enable it. Unfortunately, not many casual users are aware of the need for this, and could stand to benefit from protection from the "casual eavesdropper" (http://revolutionwifi.blogspot.com/2010/11/firesheep-fallaci...).


A lot of casual users aren't aware of HTTPS, either, and don't ever need to 'enable' it. It just works. The infrastructure for it is rather centralized now, of course, but it doesn't have to be that way.


For the most part, I agree. I was thinking about services like facebook where the user has to take the initiative. But it would seem these are becoming the exception.

You're right; exploring a web of trust rolled into this would be interesting.


I'm not sure I fully understand -- what is the internet without the services that you use on it? If common sites like youtube and facebook aren't directly connected to this network, will this work? And if not, then what makes this the internet and not just an adhoc mesh network?


Obviously, this will take off only if there is a need for it, just like anything else. If Governments keep censoring more and more of the Internet, people will gradually move to this type of networks, and as scale is built, services will start appearing on them, too.

What you're saying is also a typical "the incumbent's product has more features than the new disruptive product", but that usually doesn't stop disruptive products from taking off, because they fill a different need, and they're much better at certain things - in this case at ensuring you don't get censored, that your data is protected, and that you can be anonymous.


But due to the spatial nature of the mesh networks described, either the networks would require wifi to span cities and states or each cluster would need their own set of services? If that's the case, it's not really the internet as we know today?


I'd imagine that clusters could be interconnected by fiber optics. That's the beautiful thing about current internet; it doesn't care about the underlying medium. Your packets may travel through a POTS network to satellites to fiber optics to ethernet to DSL until it reaches your computer, and it's all rather transparent.


I simply love and embrace ideas like this.

But why creating something new when there are projects available like OpenWRT or DD-Wrt or Freifunk Firmware wich creates a Mesh-Network that works quite good? The only thing you need is standard Wi-Fi routers and those firmwares.


There are quite a few different projects out there. Ultimately, the one that gets the most adoption, will win. Hopefully, that one is also the best one, but as it becomes the defacto mesh technology, more and more people will join to work on it, add technology from other projects, and improve on it. So let it be chosen through natural selection.


I suspect they'll merge rather than compete.


Isn't this sort of thing already happening, and has been for a while? Here's the one in my city: http://www.melbournewireless.org.au/


a similar project was born in 2005 actually ... http://netsukuku.freaknet.org/?pag=faq


Paranoia. Maybe we could use dialup to some random number as backup. Oh wait, then they can tap the line. What if we launch our own satellite? Then, there's the Russians...maybe Osama isn't dead.


Reminds me of Daniel Suarez's Daemon and Freedom.


Haha, I was just thinking of this!


The alternative internet will take off like wildfire when the existing internet is locked down, and you can't do what you need to do on it. It's only a matter of time before we lose our Internet. We must make a new one that cuts out the middle man. If not then we will usher in a new era of slavery, and our children will curse our generation for allowing such a powerful instrument to be destroyed.


In 2001 the fictive persona John Titor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Titor) described the Internet of his future just like this.


That's pretty sweet, except that when "they" declare martial law (which this project assumes), why can't "they" bust down your door and take your routers? I mean, if they can come arrest you now for eating too much power with grow lights or bitcoin mining, don't you think it'll be pretty trivial to smash down any door with a wifi signal behind it, when the tanks are out in the streets?


Sounds like a lot of work. Hard to do if you get a high level of saturation. Going door to door to switch off the internet is much harder than flicking a big switch at the big telcos.


Warning: if the government decide to take out the Internet, that will be the least of your worries.


But the Internet will be the best way to fix those worries.




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