Commotion Wireless: Free and Open Way to Network


Meinrath also said mesh networking is a technology at which the U.S. government once led, but because of blowback from Internet service providers, support has subsided. "Commotion is one of the last big open-sourced projects in the country," Meinrath said.

Internet service providers have never been crazy about the idea. Meinrath told ABC News that in 2005 he was among those volunteering efforts to get areas hit by Hurricane Katrina back online, and, by way of mesh networking, there was some success. However, as the Washington Post reported at the time, groups like BellSouth fought to have the free services taken down.

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Mesh networking technology has also had to answer "misinformation campaigns," spreading the idea that the technology doesn't work, according to Meinrath. To the naysayers, Meinrath cites to the example of, a mesh network in Spain that currently spans over 35,000 km and has the capacity to accommodate "several hundreds of thousands" of users, he says.

Though it's not possible to access outside Web pages without the use of an Internet service provider, Commotion Wireless can handle files and communication among those users connected. "The idea is that absent an Internet gateway, communities can offer distributed, work-alike solutions such as email, media sharing, crowd sourced mapping, social messaging and more. [This week's new release version] includes support for packaging such applications so that they can be advertised over the mesh by those offering them and discovered by potential users from a browser or mobile phone," Gideon told ABC News.

Commotion Wireless released three preview builds last year, but this week's beta version will be the prelude to an eventual full release sometime this year, said Meinrath.

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