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[liberationtech] Mesh Networks?

Shaddi Hasan shaddi at berkeley.edu
Fri Jun 17 13:15:37 PDT 2011


There's another Open-Mesh that's been around for a while selling
equipment for this stuff:

http://www.open-mesh.com

FOSS software for mesh networks has been around for a very long time,
and has been deployed widely (Open-Mesh uses this in their product).
Despite this, there are very, very few examples of mesh networks
operating at any substantial scale for any meaningful duration, and
none that I know of that operate without a highly motivated and
talented team behind them. Mesh is easy to get excited about, which is
probably why there are so many wireless mesh "pilot" networks, most of
which end up going nowhere.

>From what I have seen of others, and my own experience running a
community mesh network, is that the management overhead is much higher
than most expect. The low-cost single-radio hardware used in most
community wireless settings simply doesn't scale, due to inefficient
use of RF, among other reasons. As others have mentioned, providing
Internet access through a mesh network is both difficult and
expensive, and the costs of uplink connections are typically the
biggest part of a network's budget.

Concepts from ad-hoc mesh networks seem promising for building
non-Internet communications systems, especially if you are primarily
interested in communicating inside the mesh cloud using asynchronous
messages (think email).

On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 12:59 PM, Douglas Finley <dafinley at gmail.com> wrote:
> That picture shows a damn macbook in Afghanistan....completely unexpected.
> But there is also probably a size/usage difference between a "community" in
> Afganistan and a "community" in the States.
> Not talking security, but it looks like the mesh networks in the states
> might need to look at charging a small fee ($5)
> a month per user or something to get some type of broadband backbone support
> instead of free.
> Throttle service for non paying vs paying customers. 1.5mbs down...1mbs up
> would be more than enough.
> If you provide a node...then no charge or something.
> FabFi seems to be using a combination of mesh and point to point to get the
> job done.
> Some commercial antennaes as well. 11.5 mbs and some of their links are
> miles apart. Intense.
> http://fabfi.fablab.af/techsummary.html
>
> On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 2:34 PM, elham gheytanchi <elhamucla at hotmail.com>
> wrote:
>>
>> if that is the case, why is the state department funding mesh networks in
>> Afghanistan? (reported in the NY times)? FabFi is expanding its work:
>>
>>
>> http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/06/12/world/20110612-INTERNET-ss-3.html
>>
>> best,
>> elham
>> ________________________________
>> Date: Fri, 17 Jun 2011 12:26:46 -0700
>> From: steveweis at gmail.com
>> To: companys at stanford.edu
>> CC: liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu
>> Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Mesh Networks?
>>
>> My experience using MIT's roofnet mesh network was generally poor. They
>> had about 100 nodes around Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here's an old snapshot
>> of geographic coverage and
>> connectivity: http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/roofnet/doku.php?id=map
>> The roofnet team went on to found Meraki and tried to build community WiFi
>> in San
>> Francisco: http://meraki.com/press-releases/2007/03/04/meraki-networks-selects-san-francisco/. They
>> had 800 Wifi hotspots around the city. I never personally used one, but you
>> used to see their "Free the net" networks everywhere. As of 2009, they
>> stopped expanding their network. I don't know what happened to it, but
>> didn't see any mention on their website anymore. I think they have shifted
>> away from mesh networking to focus on network management products.
>> Portland had a similar network to roofnet called NetEquality. It doesn't
>> look like they even have a webpage anymore. OLPC XS was supposed to use mesh
>> networking: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/School_Server. That also went nowhere.
>> I think WiFi-based mesh networking is difficult because you need many
>> nodes to cover even a small geographic area. It also needs enough egress
>> bandwidth to support regular usage and a means of preventing someone from
>> swamping the network. None of these examples were unauthorized. They would
>> have been trivial to corrupt or disable by someone motivated to shut them
>> down.
>> I don't know if this is relevant to OpenMesh. They are asking for "high
>> end wirelesss engineers that understand how to change firmware for wireless
>> devices". That could mean a lot of things.
>> On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 8:06 AM, Yosem Companys <companys at stanford.edu>
>> wrote:
>>
>> What do you all think?  Will mesh networks work?
>> Shervin Pishevar is a really smart guy, so if anyone can help organize
>> this effectively, it is he.
>> But mesh nets have been around for a while and never taken off, so just
>> wondering what the technical hurdles are.
>>
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