Where I see the meshnet going

I have been talking to more people on IRC, and it occurred to me that many people do not have a clear idea about where Project Meshnet is heading.  I should have expected this, given how many new users are showing up, but I did not.  So, this (hopefully brief) post will outline where I envision Project Meshnet will be in the future.  I don’t know whether I should expect this to happen in five years, ten years, or one year; just this path will lead to the most success.

Step 1: Meshlocals

Meshlocal: a local group, normally in a city, that funds and builds a wireless meshnet.  ex: The Seattle Meshnet Project; The Maryland Meshnet Project

Step one: start building area-wide wireless meshnets.  It is likely that these will be marketed as alternatives to the area’s ISPs.  Right now, both the Seattle Meshnet Project and the Maryland Meshnet project are working to design, fund, and build these networks.

As a member of the Seattle Meshnet Project, I can speak more to our progress than the progress in Maryland at the moment.  Currently, we are starting to set up our first nodes, and are planning to set up more nodes this summer (once college finals are over, that is).  If we can obtain sufficient funding (which we are working on), we should have a large working network within a year.  This network will host it’s own services, give access to wider hyperboria services, and, for a small fee, provide gateways to the “real” internet, or “clearnet” as we call it.

After seeing the success of the Seattle and Maryland projects, other cities will join.  I would give this some time to happen, so by the time it does we will have worked out many of the technical details about how to run a city-wide mesh network.

Step 2: Connect to other cities

After many cities have mesh networks up and running, we will start making connections between cities.  Initially, we will probably pay for bandwidth from companies that run physical cables between cities.  However, the eventual goal would be to pay for and build Project Meshnet exclusive infrastructure.  Please realize that the first part, buying bandwidth, is still a ways away, and building our own connections is even further off.

Before we can do anything on that large of a scale, we first need some sort of payment system.  I have talked about that in previous posts, so I am not going to go any further into it tonight.

Step 0: Get people involved

Wait, step zero?  Yes, before either of the previous two steps are realized, we need people to help.  Help can come in many forms: you can join your local group, or start one if your area doesn’t have one.  Everyone can stop by IRC and at least learn more about what we’re planning.  If you are a programmer, contribute to any of our hyperboria projects, or cjdns itself.  Or start your own project.  If you are not very technically savvy, help spread awareness.  If you are to busy but have a few spare bitcoins, we also need donations to pay for development, hardware, and advertising.

Anyone can help.

2 thoughts on “Where I see the meshnet going

  1. droid31337 says:

    Sincere question. While reading this post I thought “well that’s not very different from when some entrepeneur was starting an ISP/telco in my city back in the days”. So your overall plan is to build something, offer something and perhaps get paid for it. Seems OK.

    Once this meshnet gets to a certain size that lots of people in a big city are using them, what would be different from the original old centralized Internet? What are the safeguards?

    • bentley says:

      I think there are two big things that separate us from the old internet.
      First is that the current plan is for everything to be non-profits, with the goal of creating a decentralized, secure mesh network rather than making money.
      Second, the hardware is not owned by a central company, like it is now. Almost all the hardware is owned by the users, meaning if you don’t like what you’re neighbor is doing (either they’re downloading cp or their trying to charge to much to route traffic), you can just de-peer and send traffic around them.

      Also, even if my first point fails, and for-profit companies come in and start making money, it isn’t as big of a deal as it is with the current internet. The decentralized nature of the network (with everyone owning their own hardware) makes it almost imposable to gain a monopoly (without some form of government interference, that is).

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