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Cellphones The Internet Wireless Networking Technology

A Mobile Phone Mesh That Can Survive Carrier Network Failure 131

Posted by timothy
from the use-the-unbroken-bits dept.
bennyboy64 writes "iTnews reports that researchers from Australia and Singapore are developing a wireless ad-hoc mesh networking technology that uses mobile handsets to share and carry information. The mesh network will make use of Bluetooth or Wi-fi to swap information between handsets — even if the mobile phone network was offline. One potential scenario could be during an emergency where the mobile phone network was unavailable or clogged. In a city centre, users could set up the network to share information, video, photographs and, depending on the final client applications, even locate friends and loved ones. One benefit of developing such a technology would be that users sharing content between their devices would use the wireless communications technology already built into their phones and not bandwidth from their mobile provider. The researchers from the National ICT Australia and Singapore's A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research hope to demonstrate the technology within two years, according to NICTA project leader Dr Roksana Boreli.'This is an early stage in the research project,' she said. 'We are addressing how you would quickly establish trust between devices, how you would discover them and share the information,' Boreli said."
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A Mobile Phone Mesh That Can Survive Carrier Network Failure

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  • Aim Higher (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shadowofathief (1348245) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:43PM (#29610651)
    Screw only for emergencies why don't they just put the providers out of business. No more monthly fees.
  • Trust per DoD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:44PM (#29610663)

    Trust = Ability to violate established security policy

    Don't trust, only verify.

    Encrypt information you want to send, then I don't care if 50 drug dealers, pedophiles, Catholic priests, scientologists, or other low-lives are involved in the chain, so long as the message reaches my intended recipient who has the proper key to decrypt it.

  • Re:Aim Higher (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:47PM (#29610721)

    Indeed. Even a 5000$ cellphone would be cheap if there were no monthly fees.

  • Re:Aim Higher (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpudB0y (617458) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:06PM (#29610953)

    How long does your battery last now? How long do you think it would last if your phone was a repeater?

    No thanks.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:21PM (#29611157) Journal
    I dunno ... about as many as those who "waste" their bandwidth seeding torrents?
  • by moxley (895517) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:26PM (#29611227)

    I think this sort of decentralized network is a great idea - it's something we need to see more of, and has tons of uses.

    Can you imagine if an application was released that created just such an "off of the network" mesh and would work with most phones and it caught on like Napster did? Can you imagine how the mobile providers would go apeshit if large groups of people circumvented their network and were able to communicate on their own?

  • Re:Battery life (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:29PM (#29611257) Homepage

    Unless you're up against a monthly transfer cap, seeding while you're not otherwise using the network doesn't cost you anything. On the other hand, running the WiFi and Bluetooth radios (and the CPU) may significantly reduce your mobile's battery life, which is already much too short for most people's tastes already.

  • Re:Aim Higher (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sn00ker (172521) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:17PM (#29611779) Homepage
    umm, maybe because a phone that can't reliably make connections to anywhere is useless?

    Really, think this one through. What're you paying the carrier for? Dialtone. Which means that you're paying them to reliably (for values of reliability that vary with carrier, but here in NZ they're all pretty damn good) deliver your call data to the recipient. Take away that service, and how do you ensure that, when you need it, you'll have the ability to make a call, or send a text message? What if you need to make an emergency call and there're no other phones around to hop your signal into range of a network interconnection point? Or if the only phones that are nearby are in transit, and thus you lose your signal mid-call because your multi-hop path back into the POTS network has irretrievably lost a link?

    You might wonder what you're paying your provider for, but I guarantee that if they dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow, to be replaced by this conceptual system, you wouldn't last a month before you were begging for their return. And if you regularly make trips that take you to less-populated areas, I'd give you a week. This might work in the middle of New York City or some similarly heavily populated area, maybe, but even there you still need some way of interconnecting with both other mobile networks and with POTS. Those interconnects are what you pay your carrier for.

  • Re:Aim Higher (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:26PM (#29612369)

    At worst, a phone in repeater mode would last as long as the normal talk time. However, if it's acting as a repeater in a dense mesh, it probably wouldn't need to (and shouldn't) transmit at as high a power as it would to reach a tower a mile away.

  • by westlake (615356) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:15PM (#29612669)

    One potential scenario could be during an emergency where the mobile phone network was unavailable or clogged. In a city centre, users could set up the network to share information, video, photographs and, depending on the final client applications, even locate friends and loved ones.

    The emergency scenario implies extended and widespread power outages. When you battery dies, it dies, and it just might take you with it.

    The cell phone designer makes certain simplying assumptions: that you will be well within range of a commercial grade repeater mounted high and with a relatively unobstructed line of sight.

    That you aren't trying to hop-scotch your way at street level across midtown Manhatten in a sleet storm.

    You are going to need one hell of an algorithym to manage the load if you allow unrestricted traffic in photos and video under 9/11 conditions.

    What's needed here most is the ability to send a brief - meanignful - text message.

  • Re:Diamond Age? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fastest fascist (1086001) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:13AM (#29614255)
    I thought the bigger practical obstacle was node density? Also, ISPs don't want people to share their Internet connections with unknown numbers of strangers. And people mostly want mobile networking for Internet connectivity, so if you can't guarantee an Internet connection almost 100% of the time, I think a lot of people are not going to be interested in your mesh. That means there's little commercial incentive to develop such a system, and here we are, few meshes around.

    To really start a mesh network up, you'd need some high-bandwidth internet connectivity nodes all around a city, and then a bunch of people with mesh-enabled devices. Without both of these the system doesn't really work. And that's kind of the problem with the mesh - it's not worth much without a large userbase, and it's difficult to get a large userbase without a useful product.

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