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[liberationtech] Mesh Networks?

Jon Lebkowsky jon.lebkowsky at gmail.com
Sun Jun 19 06:40:26 PDT 2011


The CIty of Austin has been operating a mesh network since 2006:
http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/help/mesh/.  When the World Congress on
Information Technology was coming to town, those of us asked to give input
on tech for the event suggested a mesh network, and Cisco agreed  to build
it and donate it to the city. Unfortunately it's relatively low power, and
that's because they didn't want to appear to be competing with commercial
providers. But it does work.

Collin mentioned the problem of using dialup, but the BBS networks that were
around before the Internet became more accessible used dialup in a limited
way, to exchange email across the Internet. (John Quarterman wrote a book
called _The Matrix_ that defined the larger information ecosystem that
included not just the Internet, but other networks that used the Internet in
a limited way like this - e.g. WWIVNet or FidoNet). JADP.

~ Jon L.

On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 8:46 PM, Danny O'Brien <DObrien at cpj.org> wrote:

>
> On Jun 17, 2011, at 2:27 PM, Steve Weis wrote:
>
> I'm not dismissing mesh networks in general. I was specifically talking
> about examples of municipal WiFi mesh networks like Rooftnet and Meraki. The
> article you linked to is in reference to FabFi, which is an ad hoc
> long-range radio network connecting to local meshes. My point was that
> extending a local WiFi mesh to cover a large area (e.g. Kabul or Nairobi) is
> difficult in practice. Other technologies might be better suited.
>
> Just as a point of reference, FabFi's Nairobi installation serves 13 homes
> and has only been able to operate at a peak of 1Mbps, which is 20% of their
> capacity [1]. They averaged about 4GB of total traffic a day during April.
> They are experiencing frequent outages as of a couple months ago [2]. That's
> not surprising since power and network connectivity can be intermittent in
> Nairobi.
>
> [1]
> http://fabfiblog.fabfolk.com/2011/04/hump-bringing-it-all-together.html
> [2] http://fabfiblog.fabfolk.com/2011/03/banwidth-crisis.html
>
>
> I'm not entirely adding new information here, but I spent a fair bit of
> time researching WiFi mesh in 2004 when many of these technologies were
> being first explored. The general concern then was that building mesh on
> 802.11 commodity hardware was  challenging because the niggling details of
> theoretical mesh routing models were still in their infancy then, and
> applying them to the real world (and a real RF environment) was exposing
> serious and hard to debug challenges, especially on a platform that wasn't
> built for mesh.
>
> I think when many people think of mesh now, they're still considering using
> WiFi, but they may be unaware of the already large amount of practical
> knowledge about the limitations of commodity WiFi tech to pull this off.
>
> Effective mass hacking, I feel, comes from having a wide variety of fairly
> well-known and commoditised tools that can be repurposed and composed
> together to new ends. I think everyone wants that commodity tool to be WiFi,
> but I think the last few years have shown that it's by no means easy to do
> this.
>
> Alternatively, we may have enough practical knowledge now to build
> something stable and reproducible out of it, but the knowledge is badly
> distributed among a lot of practictioners, some of whom may already have
> given up, and some of whom may be trapped in attempting to provide
> commercial services out of what they know.
>
> I'd love a frank summary from the Meraki, LocustWorld, PortlandTelco and
> the 802.11s folks of what's been happening in the last few years. Maybe this
> information is being collated somewhere: but I think it would be more
> rewarding to collate that past experience, than start from scratch all over
> again.
>
> d.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 12:34 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
>>
>>
>>
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-- 
Jon Lebkowsky (@jonl)
Polycot Associates <http://polycotassociates.com>
Twitter <http://twitter.com/jonl> |
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