Monster Mesh: Decentralized Wireless Broadband.

Monster Mesh: Decentralized Wireless Broadband. One the best non-technic description of the technology underpinnings of the new association Open Ether– that I am a co-founder of – is found in Kevin Werbach’s article Monster Mesh: Decentralized Wireless Broadband (Originally published on The Feature – January 01, 2002).

Kevin writes:

Unlike traditional arrangements such as client-server, P2P networks use direct connections between autonomous nodes at the edges. Data flows from one user to another, rather than through a central server. The most famous P2P application is Napster. Instead of transferring files from a master repository down to individual users, Napster allows those users to communicate and share files between each other’s hard drives. Other P2P applications offer decentralized collaboration, distributed content delivery for large media files, and cheap computing power for complex calculations by dividing problems among thousands of inexpensive machines. The P2P structure makes it easy to exchange music in violation of copyright restrictions, which is why the recording industry forced Napster to shut down through legal action. However, the P2P approach has unrelated benefits. A P2P network doesn’t depend on a central authority to manage connections and store necessary data. It grows with each new node. Those nodes gain from the connection to a large network, but the network gains as well from what each node brings to the collective. There are no single points of failure, and no requirements that a complete core network be built before the users at the edges can connect. The P2P architecture makes great sense for wireless networks. Direct connections between handheld wireless devices and other local transmitters could replace traditional systems composed of towers and long-distance network backbones.

To me this sound like building a new Internet all over again based on the good old principles: User-centric, decentralized, bases on open standards and so on. Only this time much better: No middle man holding us all hostage with excessive rents of telephone lines, GSM traffic and so on. People communicating digitally directly without no inhibiting intermediary. Just like in the real world when we meet and talk and sound waves are transmitted free of charges through the air.

Kevin Werbach puts it succinctly:

No wiring; no outside distribution plant; no transmission towers; no spectrum licenses. In effect, the network is the endpoints; in the middle is just air.

Working towards this goal is what Open Ether is all about. Nirvana? Utopia? We will see!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *