Is there an unsecured wireless network near you?
The Death of the Telco
Monday, 28 June 2010 21:05

symbiotic networkThe birth of the Google's Android mobile phone OS will end our reliance on telco's phone networks and give 'power to the people' resulting in free mobile (cell) phone calls for everyone!

How's it work?

Currently your mobile phone is tied to a telco's network. It sends and receives calls via their network. For example, if the phone you're calling is in the same room as you, your call will be sent to the telco network base station (potentially miles away) redirected and bounced back to the phone your calling a few feet away!

The physical electronics of mobile phones CAN enable them to send and receive signals with each other...so if you're within signal range of the phone your calling there is no need for the telco's network...

Of course until now, this hasn't been possible, the software (and/or firmware) driving a mobile phone, locked it to a Telco's network, but the birth of Google's open source mobile phone OS Android spells an end the hard wiring of mobile phones and potentially lays open the full capibility of a mobile phone's hardware.

But wait, it gets better!

A conservative estimate of your average mobile phones signal range is a 2km radius, so the phone your calling doesn't have to be in the same room, but can be up to 2km away.

By extrapilation, if you had many open source mobile phones with the right software, connecting to the same network, you could potentially have a range covering an entire city and beyond, depending on phone density within the area.

The details: This alternative type of network isn't new and has been researched for over 30 years. It's called a symbiotic or mesh network. It forms on the fly from the devices (phones) themselves without needing any infrastructure or centralised control. The phones talk directly with each other by forming chains of transceivers relaying information to its final destination.

Advantages for this type of mobile network:

  • Obviously cost, it's free! Your only cost would be the power to run your phone.
  • Security, your signal (as well as being encrypted) can be split between many nodes where each node (or phones in the network) only recieves a fraction of your transmitted data. You may be familiar with Tor, which uses this method to protect your online anonymity.
  • Greener solution - less physical infrastucture required (no 'eyesore' cell phone towers) and less power consumed broadcasting a signal the extra distance to a base station and back.
  • Signal strength scales with increased density of phones, whereas the current node/cell networks can overload and suffer from signal loss in a high phone density environment.
  • this type of distributed network (once it's reached a certain density) is very robust. If one node (phone) is down, the signal can be rerouted through any number of alternate nodes (phones).

Ya dreamin mate...

But, why wouldn't it happen? I'm guessing the Telco isn't actually going to die (makes a good headline tho...) as we would still need the copper and satellite network backbone to bridge the gaps between citys and countrys where the density of mobile phone nodes isn't going to be high enough. But in a city, or in countrys like Japan and alot of Europe and UK... thats a lot £,$,¥, and Euro big Telco goes without !

Author: Barry Green - urbanwirless.info