Mobile Mesh Networks: now we're talking...

Swedish firm TerraNet is trialling a mobile mesh network, we read. In a mesh network, each handset works like a little base station, too. It is a peer-to-peer technology without the need for a base station and, hence without a network operator or carrier. TerraNet's devices currently have 1km range, i.e. unless there is another device within a range of 1km, it will not work.

However, should this technology become robust and sufficiently scaled, the new Vodafones and Verizons would probably be Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks, i.e. the big network vendors. Incidentally, Ericsson is said to have invested $3m in TerraNet. At present, a maximum of 7 hops can be done, and this would be limiting the distance that can be covered. However, the company apparently also offers a network node via a USB dongle and this could then connect to a VoIP system to bridge long-distance and go into another mesh network closer to the recipient.

Would this technology be available on a larger scale (and perhaps ultimately without the constraints of so many hops), this would then result in lower cost for users because there would be one less mouth to be fed in the value chain, and it so happens that this is the hungriest mouth at present. Terranet is said to be recognizing that the telcos won't be delighted about this (multi-media evangelists like Nokia's Anssi Vanjoki will however be uber-excited as it will boost multimedia offerings and the opportunities over there). Oh, dreaming of the future...

At present, the offering is geared to scarcely populated areas (the company runs trials in Tanzania and Ecuador), and the above-described problems might not be an issue there. In the contrary, it could be that operators would embrace the technology to expand coverage. The company also targets urban areas where people make lots of local calls, which would then be virtually free.

In those more urban areas, there may be problems with having enough available frequencies, and the struggle with the regulators in the space might indeed slow the deployment down significantly. This would probably be made even harder due to the political concerns of many countries when it comes to weakening some of their economic powerhouses (because this is what carriers also are).

Other commentators are also concerned with battery life but also note that, if the phones are replacing landlines, they can be left plugged into a power source (which would be defeating the purpose of the notion of being mobile though, I guess). Surely this would be solvable though.

Very interesting indeed, I think!


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