Monday, July 21, 2008

Say it with me..... mesh network

Here's a prediction from yours truly. All the posturing and restructuring and commercializing and restricting the internet is totally in vain. The more big media try to tame and mold the internet into the commercial enterprise they envision, the more they hasten the inevitable evolution in the direction the internet was meant to go. The future is mesh networks. Let me explain.

The current internet is already fashioned on a form of mesh network as it is. The infrastructure has built in redundancy in that it does not rely on one or two links from place to place. But the 'tubes' themselves exist more in the internet's interior as it were. These tubes are owned and operated by the giant telecoms, which means that since they are the only gateway to the backbone of the 'net' - they ARE the internet. As such, it was always just a matter of time before the internet became commercialized. Since monetizing the internet with maximum profit can only work if the entire resource is controlled - and this has yet to happen, although (based on what I've blogged recently) some say it is due soon, it is the next logical step in their business model. The question is no longer if the internet becomes a commercialized, restructured and restrictive entity, but when. This spells trouble for those who insist that the net should be open. But this dreaded evolution has always been predicated on our need of the big telecoms to access the internet - without their 'tubes', there is no network. Until now.

The tubes themselves are cable or fibre or satellite links. But they're no longer the only means to connect us to each other. Thanks to evolving wireless technology, the constant miniaturization of processing power and data storage, the need for these old fashioned links is evetually going to come to an end. As each new gadget, device, phone, PDA, mp3 player, laptop and PC connects using wireless technology, the key to the new internet is the available radio spectrum. If organizations that believe in the ideal of net neutrality buy up auctioned spectrum, the need to rely on commercial ISPs will wane. Mesh networks (especially public ones) are a concept that are still in their infancy, but I assure you, the avant-garde thinkers have already figured it out. The internet of the future will make use of every spare cycle of processing power, every spare MB of storage, every MHz of spare frequency allocation to form a new, free internet that is completely outside the clutches of big media. The internet will belong to the people because it will literally exist in the devices and computers of the people in the form of a huge mesh network. Owned by everyone and nobody.

Fear not my friends, the dinosaur breathes but a few more feeble gasps, before she truly joins the ranks of the extinct.

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