Human and organizational networking

  1. 8 years ago


    13 Jun 2014 Moderator

    Apart from the many technical details involved in getting this network, uh, working, there is some non-trivial social and maybe even legal infrastructure to build. The more people we have involved, the better it will work for everybody. Also, the more tall buildings and elevated places we can get involved, the better. So we need tech support volunteers to help get nodes online, but we also need education / outreach / recruitment / public relations people: in a word, activists.

    I think it's a good idea for us, as individuals anyway, to form some working relationships with existing organizations.

    Stephouse is a local wireless ISP that we should at least be aware of. They offer residential and business service via 2.4Ghz links throughout the city.

    The Personal Telco Project has been around since 2000, and has hundreds of public-access wifi nodes scattered around Portland. They've stuck around through the rise and fall of MetroFi , an ill-fated commercial mesh start-up. Many of their members have similar long-standing aspirations for building a city-wide mesh, and they have a lot of experience and connections that can be helpful to this project. Consider attending one of their Wednesday-evening meetings.

  2. alex

    13 Jun 2014 Administrator

    Thanks for the info.

    Companies like Stephouse might actually be interested in helping us because it would provide almost free infrastructure to sell Internet access.

    I don't yet see how PTP would extract benefit from such a network (they only provide hardware/software to users who want to host free wifi), although, their users might find the network useful.

  3. max

    15 Jun 2014 Moderator

    I don't know Stephouse that well yet, although I'm considering leaving Comcast for them. I once worked for a rural wireless ISP, and had no luck getting them to adopt a mesh topology, even though we could have increased our customer base substantially. The main concern was basically about quality of service: connectivity issues in meshes are harder to debug, and one subscriber's equipment failure could affect multiple other customers. My impression is that most ISPs want to keep their distribution infrastructure entirely separate from subscriber access points.

    I suspect that Stephouse would be inclined look at us as a competitor, since they're already in the wireless distribution business. But upstream ISPs might be interested in negotiating bulk rates with a 'bandwidth co-op', if we had something like that incorporated. I think it's worth discussing pros and cons at the next meeting.

    PTP itself is a tiny non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers who meet over beer once a week, and I don't think they're really oriented around extracting benefit from anything :-) ...but the obvious win for PTP participants would be the same as for everyone else: higher total bandwidth, failover resiliency, better security, etc.

  4. alex

    17 Jun 2014 Administrator

    As far as I understand, PTP provides APs preloaded with their specialized firmware (based on OpenWRT or something) to businesses/organizations who want to host free WiFi at their locations. Those users don't really care about mesh networks, they care more about giving free Internet access via WiFi to their patrons. They certainly would NOT be interested in giving free Internet access to somebody on the proposed PDX mesh net (or at lease most of them). They might, however, be interested in using somebody's gateway to the Internet that might exist on the mesh net.

    Regarding the quality of service, this is a valid point. However, I believe this should be handled by the routing protocol and software. For example, I believe OLSR takes into account the quality of links when computing routing tables. Once mesh networks start to become the norm, the protocol that is the most robust and the least pain-free will be adopted. I don't see QoS as being a core problem once good solutions are implemented and all the bugs are worked out.

  5. max

    18 Jun 2014 Moderator

    You are right about PTP providing OpenWRT APs to member nodes who want them; members are welcome to use their own hardware as well. Most PTP nodes are actually hosted by individuals, not businesses or other organizations, and I don't think you're correct about them not being interested in mesh. See for example:

  6. alex

    18 Jun 2014 Administrator

    Many of their members are interested in mesh networking but, as an organization, they have done little to move on this. Or at least that is my impression.


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