What Is the Mesh Network and Why Is It Our Future?

The author of the channel Shifrodengi (Encrypted Money) told us why the Mesh networks are the future and how blockchain will accelerate their development.

The Mesh network is a distributed, peer-to-peer, self-organizing network with a cellular topology.

The Mesh networks differ from usual centralized networks in that all nodes are equal in them, meaning that each node is simultaneously a provider, a router, and a bridge (a network switch).

To become a full-fledged node on the network, it is enough to install the Mesh network software on your router, phone, or laptop. No additional software is required to connect the client to the Mesh network, except for the DHCP client and support of the IPv6 system.

In the mesh network you are “your own provider.” You cannot be disconnected from this network, and you cannot be listened in to with special equipment.

Mesh networks are the way by which humanity will build a free, censorship-resistant, decentralized Internet with end-to-end traffic encryption by default. A cryptocurrency is the missing element of the equation.

What Is the Value of the Global Mesh Network?

 It is not possible to monitor traffic and nodes serving the Mesh network, because there is no single center for obtaining IP addresses (DHCP). All routes are distributed and dynamic, and DNS can also be decentralized.

 The Mesh network is optionally anonymous and always private. All traffic is encrypted by default. There are no centralized logs for user sessions and node activity. Goodbye, Big Brother.

 Traffic cannot be prioritized. Net neutrality is the law that is prescribed in the code. Farewell, traffic prioritization and lobbying for the interests of corporations and governments.

 The network cannot be blocked or closed, because it connects on the principle of “each with each,” which creates a large number of links. The breakage of one or more connections will not affect the functioning of the network as a whole. Goodbye, state firewalls.

 If there is a natural disaster, then by using the Mesh network, you can quickly build a network on the scene for communication, and connect it to the global network with external support.

At the same time, such a network can be cheap and self-organizing, that is, if you plug the cable to a device or connect your gadget to Wi-Fi/cellular network, you can press a button and automatically become a member of the network. Also, such a network can work in the “overlay” mode, that is, over the existing infrastructure, for example, the Internet.

Are Mesh Networks Complicated?

When starting a Mesh network, you need to solve many routing tasks, while simultaneously combining it with encryption and optimizing it for the possibility of an overlay mode of operation.

The open-source cjdns protocol and the Hyperboria project based on it, however, solve all of these tasks quite effectively.

There are many other protocols for building Mesh networks. Below is a comparative table:

Auto-Assignment of the Address is when the client selects the address himself and cannot change it, passing from one subnet to another, since there is no single address issuing center;

Auto Conf. of Routing means that there is no need to manually configure routing in the network;

Distributed Routing means the nodes exchange routing information;

Network Consolidation is the ability to integrate networks through the usual Internet;

IPv4/v6 is the protocol which the network is running on;

Auto Setup allows you to use the network without installing any other software;

Development is the status of the development of the network;

Support means which operating systems can be full-fledged members of the network.

The Problems and Obstacles for the Global Mesh Network

In comparison with the usual Internet, Mesh networks are often inefficient, because they do not guarantee the bandwidth and quality of communication. Inside, there is little content and there is not a huge amount of familiar sites and services. At the very beginning, it is challenging to run a Mesh network, and efficiency is achieved only with a large number of users (nodes).

Nevertheless, cjdns and other protocols have been developed and have been functioning for about 15 years. And there are many Mesh networks from New York to Afghanistan. People are building their own Internet to escape from the control of governments and Internet providers to protect their freedom of speech and freedom of access to information around the world.

The largest Mesh network in the world is called Guifi, located in Spain and has at the time of writing 34,593 active nodes.

This project started in 2004 with a single Wi-Fi cell. Ramon Roca, one of Oracle’s engineers, got tired of waiting for the Internet to be delivered to his town of Gurb. Initially, he wanted to solve the problem for himself. But then he helped the neighbors, too. By configuring Linksys routers in a certain way, he was able to merge them into a Mesh network to which anyone could join given an Internet connection.

The first node of the network started working when Roca installed a router with a directional antenna on the highest building of the town. It was the only building in the region with a connection to the network. The router, using a directional antenna, connected the engineer’s house to the Internet six kilometers from the building. Soon, his neighbors began asking to be connected to the Internet. And then the neighbors of neighbors, friends, colleagues, and so on and so forth. Access was free to all interested, given that they owned a router. The network gradually increased in size year after year. Roca and his team of volunteers are still working, day and night. They need to work hard to develop a network. All donations are being directed at the purchase of equipment. In fact, the network is maintained only on the voluntary basis of its creators.

But how does one entice all other people to join the network, if the problems of Internet control are not so relevant or simply not important to them? How do you attract users to start filling the network with content and services, if there is no one inside the network but the early followers? How do you get nodes to better serve the network and provide a better channel of communication?

On the one hand, states, Internet service providers, and corporations themselves create incentives for the development of a free and alternative Internet. It is sufficient to recall the recent story with Telegram, when Roskomnadzor blocked more than 18 million IP addresses, including the addresses of Google and Amazon servers. Many sites and services were harmed, including Microsoft Office 365, Windows updates, Xbox, Viber, Odnoklassniki and many others. There were even problems with making payments through 3DSecure MasterCard.

But negative events alone are not enough to create a network effect for the transition from the usual Internet to a free global Mesh network.

Before the advent of cryptocurrency, the implementation of “positive” economic incentives in Mesh networks in all their flexibility and power was impossible, simply because one would have to write code for processing bank and fiat payments under each device, which is very difficult and unsafe, and also go through bureaucratic barriers and identification by passport. In fact, now we already have all the technologies for implementing the global Mesh network, but we will remain realists, as most likely, we are talking about its alpha versions.

Cryptocurrency + Mesh Network = Global Mesh Network?

Suppose the system of economic incentives can look something like this:

 I pay the peers (the peers are the neighboring nodes on the Mesh network) for the traffic they are routing for me;

 The peers pay me for the traffic that I am routing for them;

 I make a cryptocurrency deposit to my account node when the balance is zero;

 IPFS is used to cache and store content with a system of similar economic incentives (using FileCoin);

 The better you serve the network, the more cryptocurrency you get.

Imagine that the network can be organized through any devices (telephones, clocks, refrigerators, etc.) with the help of certain software and radio communications. Imagine that you can redirect traffic from the Internet to the global Mesh network and vice versa. Imagine that the replenishment of balances in the network occurs automatically and autonomously with the help of a pair of simple smart contracts. Of course, you cannot do without a large number of transactions per second, which is also achievable. That is all. There are no central towers. There are no wires underground. There are no centralized providers. No mobile operators. There are no GSM core networks.

There is no doubt that such a network will bring enormous benefits to absolutely everyone. Let us see if there is someone who has enough guts to realize this.

Examples of cryptocurrency projects that develop Mesh networks are Skycoin, RightMesh, Ammbr, Altheamesh.

For example, the Skycoin project is developing its Mesh network, the Skywire, and the plans are very ambitious. The team plans to build a global Mesh network, and the Skycoin blockchain will be used in it as a payment system.

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