Build Your Own Internet

January 26, 2015 -- BIT Magazine There are a lot of reasons to build your own Internet. In some places, you may have access to the Internet, but not particularly like your service provider or those monitoring and regulating your network. In other places, you may have no Internet (or telecom network) at all.

The solution is not to wait for someone to build the network that meets all your requirements, the answer is to build that network yourself!

An interesting Make Magazine article on what are called "Meshnets" appeared in November 2014. In it, they describe Hyperboria, a project which aspires to create a global mesh network. 

A mesh network is basically a completely decentralized peer-to-peer version of the Internet. Local mesh networks are created where local users can communicate with one another and access information hosted locally by each user. A local mesh network, in turn, can be connected with another, then another and another until coverage is regional or even national. 

A variety of hardware is required to make this happen, but means that each user is a direct shareholder in the network itself and that the centralized assets of the current Internet and all of the problems associated with them are removed entirely. One such piece of hardware is a "mesh box" which allows for peer-to-peer connections. Another piece of hardware that will be needed to construct such networks is a long-distance router like the all-weather Nanostation M5. 

Nanostation M5 long distance router.
Once you have this hardware and the necessary software in place, along with a community of users to connect with, you have what is essentially your own Internet. Some readers may recall the Pirate Box and how it allowed for local chat clients and file sharing. It made for the perfect WiFi library, allowing anyone in range to connect to it just like any WiFi network, and download files (like PDF versions of books) or movies and music.

This is a room-scale example easy enough for anyone to try on their way to building a larger mesh network. 

Building a large community of local users and developers is key to making your Internet useful. Each user and developer brings with them content and potential solutions to improve your network. If you are able to connect with other mesh networks, all the better. 

There are also P2P applications like Project Serval that connects your mobile device to others in their own broadcasting range -- no cell phone network required. This is the perfect solution for staying in touch with others traveling with you to remote areas where there is no network coverage. It is also useful for communicating with others in range if you desire to skip using coverage even when you have it. 

At the end of the day, whatever your reason is for building your own Internet or using other P2P communication solutions, you will learn a lot, and you will have an alternative you can turn your attention to whenever the real Internet or your mobile network has got you down or goes down.

BIT Magazine is a bi-lingual platform for Thailand's maker movement to connect, grow, and collaborate with maker communities abroad. Follow us on Twitter here or on Facebook here.
3DClass370         Ad_370