Independent And Autonomous Local Access To The Communication Infrastructure: Which Roads Ahead?
Will internet access be controlled and monopolized by a handful of global internet access providers?
Can governments prevent access to certain sites? Perhaps there is an alternative in the making.
Photo credit: Youssouf Cader
Hundreds of municipalities are recognizing that facilitating internet access is part of their responsibility towards citizens, and they are planning to bypass traditional internet access providers, opening access to the net in a more direct way. According to an article of DMeurope.com, over 400 cities world wide are currently planning to deploy broadband networks in their areas, and 2006 should see a doubling of the numbers.
Rome, along with New York, San Francisco and Paris, is among the major cities planning to provide citizens and visitors with widespread internet access, choosing between fibre or wireless broadband networks using wi-fi hotspots, mesh networks or pre-WiMAX technology.
Mesh networks are a natural candidate for constructing a resilient, locally networked access to communication infrastructure. The Times in the UK has an article that explains how New Orleans could have profited from such a network to facilitate hurricane relief and how some of the most unlikely places are linking up with the internet by installing networks of little radio boxes that start communicating with each other, as soon as they find peers within reach, forming an autonomous network.
Photo credit: Sean McLeay
Those linked in can communicate directly with each other and also access the larger internet, normally through a leased-line access point that is shared by the network's users. Some networks allow users to contribute by sharing unused access bandwidth with others.
Not only will local networks allow more easy access to the main information pipeline, on which we depend more and more, but their spreading will proof the internet itself against catastrophic occurrences.
An internet braced by a myriad of local peer-to-peer networks will be less influenced by either catastrophic disruptions or the more subtle commercial decisions and content restrictions operated by today's access providers, as well as government censorship and military intrusions.
One could even imagine a scenario where the information that now sits on servers is redundantly backed up - stored on a myriad of personal computers that are linked up with each other through P2P networks - eventually forming a second tier of the net, one that could survive the most harsh conditions life may confront us with.
Connecting the world, one mesh at a time
by Holden Frith
Other Relevant Links:
- Speednet Scotland
- WiFi Co-operatives
- Wikipedia on wireless mesh networks
- Are Big Communication Companies Privatizing the Internet?
- Prague Seeks City-wide Free Internet Zone
January 2006 By Katya Zapletnyuk
PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- The government here wants to allocate $4.1 million to create a free wireless network citywide, which has the country's largest telecom providers crying foul.
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