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Physical Peer-to-Peer

Peer-to-peer + wireless networks = fun!
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In Gnutella (an example P2P network), you hook up with neighbours, who are hooked up with other neighbours, and so on until you get to the horizon. A physical analogy of computers linked to each other is usually used to explain how the network works.

Well, how about a peer-to-peer wireless network? If I put a peer in my house, and my friend who lives next door does the same, and his friend, etc., we could have a chain operating similarly to a cell-phone network. When a full-network query is sent, the client recieving it will echo it through the airwaves for all his neighbours to hear. Better still, a PDA device could be programmed to pick up this network while its owner is passing through.

How much of a difference could be made if we relied not on big central stations, but on consumer-owned peer stations, to make a wireless network?

ashibaka, Sep 07 2002

The startup that does this http://www.meshnetworks.com/
[theircompetitor, Oct 17 2004]


       This has been looked at...but with transmitters in cars: a signal could be routed through a line of traffic.   

       It comes under the same criticism that I give your idea... security. Your description mentions building a p2p network with 'friends'. How much do you trust your friends (what about their friends etc...) and how many nodes will there be in any given area?   

       The management of traffic levels and routing also become concerns. The devolution of network control and increased responsibility for each 'link in the chain' makes such an ad-hoc network very difficult to control and provide quality of service.
Jinbish, Sep 07 2002

       This is called a wireless mesh network and probably will require application-level security to really work and be trusted.   

       As for how many nodes there are . . . . Radios are getting cheaper and cheaper all the time and it is not hard to imagine that 802.11 or, better yet, UWB radios will take the place of cable connections on many things people will bring into their homes; computer peripherals, TVs, stereo receivers, dvd/media players, thermostats, cameras, etc. Each of these radios can serve both the host device itself as well as serving the network at large in the role of repeater/router/switch. The network performance will increase as the radio density increases, provided the routing and network topology management solutions are in place (at the individual radio level).   

       The intriguing thing is that the "last mile" becomes something that is owned by the consumer.
bristolz, Sep 08 2002

       //"last mile"...owned by consumer//   

       Depends.. The last mile isn't so much the final transmission media, but the gateway between the users network and the PSTN network (or cellular operator etc). It doesn't matter who owns the piece of copper (wirelless TX space), but who controls the access (most often a monopolistic incumbent).   

       I do, however, agree this could open up the potential to access 'the network' through many operators - but only because there is installation of a new access route (wireless).
Jinbish, Sep 09 2002

       Your definition of last mile and mine are different, I guess. I think of it as signal delivery from the NAP to the house.   

       Anyways, maybe it doesn't matter that much, because the last mile is only an issue for delivery of "core of the Internet" packets and paid broadband services delivery. The mesh in the neighborhood/community would belong to that area and be able to provide a high-speed network amongst the community, for whatever things a community might use it for.
bristolz, Sep 09 2002

       Upon reading the title I wondered whether this was anything to do with our beloved House of Lords. Alas, not.
PeterSilly, Sep 09 2002

       [bristolz] Oh all right then. I'll retract my fishbone (it was probably a skeleton of work related spite anyway).
Jinbish, Sep 09 2002

       We've done this in all its iterations. The question I never got a satisfactory answer to is: who pays for it?
phoenix, Sep 09 2002

       phoenix: If you imagine walking around with your wireless device you would be supplying bandwidth to people. The 'who pays for it' question is answered by looking at how much more bandwidth you would have available if you didn't supply this service.   

       Say it takes on average 100 wireless hops (probably conservative) to get from me to you then my message has been though 100 other devices, using up their bandwidth. Keeping these figures, about 99% of the bandwidth of your device would be used relaying the messages of others.   

       The price would be paid in bandwidth loss and price differential between different speed devices (and battery life on mobile devices).   

       If I buy a upgrade my wireless device every two years and it cost $200 for the 1Mbps version and $1000 for the 100Mbps version then I could either buy the cheap version and have $400 a year to spend with an ISP or the expensive one and have the same performance.   

       Doesn't stop me liking the concept, though.
st3f, Sep 09 2002

       This was on the front page of the Boston Globe's technology section today. A company called MeshNetworks plans to bake this idea.   

       I'm so proud! :)
ashibaka, Jun 09 2003

       Using software like FreeNet (even though it's quite slow) maybe able to reduce privacy and security concern ?
dui, Mar 16 2004


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