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Networks owned and admined by the people that use them.
I've long since had the idea that existing telecommunications networks both benefit and suffer by being owned by large companies (AT&T, MCI Worldcom, etc.) While the Internet was once the Arpanet, and later the NSFnet, this was still over the ubiqutous medium of the time, the telephone infrastructure.
exciting attempts have been launched by interested and skilled individuals to establish networks of a more home grown nature, for reasons of cost, features, and general fun. HAM radio comes to mind, and packet radio and some of it's related technologies are in there as well. The Boston-based group of hackers, The L0pht, posed the guerilla.net idea a number of years ago now after looking at fast data rates over wavelans using HAM radio equipment (BOSWIG was also an impetus for this).
Now, with the seeming demise of Iridium, an opportunity has arisen. I was scouting the 'Net for cheap Iridium gear to dissect when a friend alerted me to Save Our Sats. Check it out and volunteer today!.
L0pht Heavy Industries "guerilla.net"
guerilla.net: gigabit encrypted wavelans with HAM radio equipment and TCP/IP bridges to the 'Net [dnm, Mar 23 2000]
Save Our Sats
Save Our Satellites: an effort to purchase Iridium, make it open access, use open source, and have it benefit everyone. [dnm, Mar 23 2000]
London, England, UK
Iridium is doomed, but ... [egnor, Mar 23 2000]
... the time has apparently come ... [egnor, Mar 23 2000]
Seattle, WA, USA
... for this idea to be taken up ... [egnor, Mar 23 2000]
Portland, OR, USA
... by a number of community groups ... [egnor, Mar 23 2000]
San Francisco Bay Area, CA, USA
... around the world ... [egnor, Mar 23 2000]
San Francisco, CA, USA
... primarily using the IEEE 802.11b standard ... [egnor, Mar 23 2000]
San Jose, CA, USA
... and directional antennas. [egnor, Mar 23 2000]
Burning Man, NV, USA
[egnor, Mar 23 2000]
Chicago-area wireless Internetworking tools, resources, ideas, projects, and services. [ThohT, Mar 23 2000]
freifunk homepage (german) [erlehmann, Jan 10 2008]
||"rat-a-tat-tat, 'nutha pH00l on 'is back!", eh egnor?
||So, Egnor, are you saying this idea is baked?
||FTTH (Fiber To The Home): A very decent way to build up community home networks. Palo Alto has a project going, as does Charleston, SC. FTTH connections are in the 100MBs download range (that's really fast). They can serve Internet, telephone, television, HDTV, and can serve other multi-media services such as video phone. See for instance:
Palo Alto Fiber-to-the-Home Trial (FTTH), Information and News
||In Germany, something like you proposed exists: When Berlin citizens were unable to get fast Internet, some of them created "Freifunk" and even developed a routing protocol on their own. It's called Freifunk.