Community run communication networks
|community run communication networks|
|We will talk about the problems with commercially provided electronic communication (eg. GSM and internet), and how community run alternatives could get around these problems. This could include centralisation of control, survaillance, advertising, environmental impact, problems with mental health of users. Then a discussion of different solutions, and a demonstration of a mesh data network on the 430MHz amateur band.|
|Starts at||2012/12/30 02:00:00 PM|
|Ends at||2012/12/30 03:00:00 PM|
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As people rely more and more on electronic communication, they submit themselves more and more to the companies providing and regulating it. Gradually, the internet, which once seemed like a relatively free and user-controlled system – at least compared with totally centralised TV/radio broadcasting, becomes a controlled commercial space where people have little trust for each other and we are constantly under the eyes of authorities and businesses - much like our city centres.
In order for a community run network to become popular, we need some universal standards, and a way for different networks to link together. A small group might use high frequencies to get high bandwidth communication locally, but how can we connect that communication with lower frequency, longer range links to other communities? If we are going to set up some sort of repeaters or base stations to link groups, they need to be useful to everyone, and not dependent on other parts of the network. Some repeaters might be installed in vehicles or boats that move around. Or they might be dependent or wind or sun for power – so they cannot be always relied upon.
Mesh networks using 2.4 Ghz wifi are becoming popular, but are they really practical for anywhere other than extremely densely populated cities? It would be better to have something more practical which could give access to those in the countryside, as well as on vehicles and boats.
A way to get around the range limitations of 2.4GHz wifi, could be to convert it directly down to a lower frequency, meaning we no longer have the near line-of-sight limitation of typical 802.11. A couple of wireless cards are able to do just this. Simply take 2.4GHz, chop off the 2 and you have 400MHz. There is an amateur band just above 400Mhz - the International Telecommunications Union allocates 430-440MHz for amateurs, and in some countries its wider. We will look at two Doodle labs DL435-30 transcievers connected to wireless routers, and assess if this is a serious possibility for a free community run data network. Other ideas include using software defined radio to adaptively link radio networks on different frequencies and avoid interference.