Mesh - Technology exists for everyone in the world to have high-bandwidth communications

wow! I would never have guessed this, but it goes right to the heart of our predicament:

The technology exists now for everyone in the world to have high-bandwidth communications (data and voice) with anyone else in the world for free, without any company or middle man whatsoever, using super cheap devices that cost less than $20. When something is free, it’s one less thing you have to buy, and one less thing you have to work for.

As far as radical abundance is concerned there is no functional difference between making everyone richer and making everything cheaper.

So what kind of technology enables the creation of a free worldwide communications network?

It’s called software defined radio, and it’s been around for more than a decade. It completely solves the spectrum scarcity problem by finding, negotiating, and determining moment-by-moment, on the fly, the most efficient frequency for any given communication. This happens at the device level, so it renders the need for centrally controlling towers, and their bandwidth bottlenecks, completely obsolete. By bypassing these lower bandwidth cell towers, this decentralized, p2p, spectrum allocation protocol increases available bandwidth over traditional cell networks by three orders of magnitude. The result is profound – by ditching wireless service companies we gain a one thousand fold increase in wireless bandwidth! The only problem with this plan is it’s illegal.

What we get instead are companies like Artemis Network’s licensing this technology (PCell) so that you’ll have to keep paying your wireless bill to use it.

Say again? You’ll have to keep paying your old company every month for something they no longer provide. Imagine a scenario in which up until now you’ve always paid Peter to fetch your daily water because he had the specialized tools to do so. Then one day you figured out how to do it yourself easier and cheaper. But because of some law on the books you still have to pay Peter for the water you’re getting yourself.

This is outrageous, but it is exactly the kind of situation we now have with PCell within the existing regulatory landscape. A middle man, a thief, or in this case your wireless service provider, is forcing you to pay the same “service” fee you’ve been paying for a service you no longer use, and they no longer provide.

Artemis Networks is calling this new technology “personal cellular”, but it is anything but. It’s completely owned and licensed by your wireless service provider.

This obscene state of affairs is enabled through enforcement of obsolete spectrum scarcity laws on a resource that is no longer scarce.

I repeat – the only reason we don’t have super fast, super cheap worldwide communications is because of artificial scarcity imposed by government regulation and coercion


Virtualisation builds on concepts already seen in cloud computing, whereby the services and capabilities offered by a system are decoupled from the underlying infrastructure that delivers them. In principle this could allow network operators to sell network capabilities, such as capacity, coverage and quality of service, rather than particular types of network access, and to mix and match the technologies used to deliver those capabilities in different environments. It could also enable network operators to expand and enhance the capabilities of their networks in a flexible way, by introducing new or enhanced technologies within an existing framework.

Virtualisation relies on new approaches to network architectures and much greater software control of these architectures. Early examples of work in this area are Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and we are likely to hear much more about these concepts over the next few years.

Software-defined radio (SDR) is a radio communication system where components that have been typically implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer or embedded system.

A software-defined radio can be flexible enough to avoid the “limited spectrum” assumptions of designers of previous kinds of radios, in one or more ways including wireless mesh network where every added radio increases total capacity and reduces the power required at any one node. Each node only transmits loudly enough for the message to hop to the nearest node in that direction, reducing near-far problem and reducing interference to others.

Many mesh networks operate across multiple radio bands. For example Firetide and Wave Relay mesh networks have the option to communicate node to node on 5.2 GHz or 5.8 GHz, but communicate node to client on 2.4 GHz (802.11). This is accomplished using software-defined radio (SDR)

Hands On: Cheap Software Defined Radio

So this is the big boys utilizing SDR, but shows where the tech is at:

Reconfigurable antenna (Maybe what we’ll see in mobile phones)

A re-configurable antenna is an antenna capable of modifying dynamically its frequency and radiation properties in a controlled and reversible manner. The reconfiguration capability of re-configurable antennas is used to maximize the antenna performance in a changing scenario or to satisfy changing operating requirements.

Marmote SDR: Experimental Platform for Low-Power Wireless Protocol Stack Research

The goal of the project is to create a novel low-power experimental platform for wireless networking research and education.

The proposed Marmote platform breaks with the prevailing approach to wireless sensor network (WSN) hardware, which combines a general purpose microcontroller with a highly integrated radio transceiver, and places a flash-based Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) along with a flexible Analog Front-End (AFE) in the center to become:

  • low-power
  • powerful
  • flexible
  • modular

The above approach allows for interfacing and experimenting with different type of sensors including analog radio front-ends. In contrast with the “traditional” integrated radio chip solution this enables access to the physical layer and, hence, to baseband firmware development.

The Marmote platform has a modular structure that comprises the following 3 layers:

An example of a modern commercial $4500 SDR Transceiver: Matchstiq SDR combines a broadband RF transceiver with CPU/FPGA processing to provide a complete stand-alone software defined radio solution

An example of an Open Source (DARPA Funded) SDR Transceiver is the [HackRF One] 7 by Michael Ossmann @ $330 …he has a wiki with great info that will turn into the definitive SDR hacking resource

a Software Defined Radio peripheral capable of transmission or reception of radio signals from 10 MHz to 6 GHz. Designed to enable test and development of modern and next generation radio technologies, HackRF One is an open source hardware platform that can be used as a USB peripheral or programmed for stand-alone operation.

RF Analyzer Android App for the HackRF and RTL-SDR


The PSDR is a completely stand-alone (no computer needed), compact, Portable Software Defined Transceiver (hence the name, sorta). Originally designed for backpacking use by Ham Radio operators. It includes complete coverage up to about 30Mhz (plus 144Mhz), it has a 168Mhz ARM processor, color display, and an innovative interface.

Vector Network Analysis (which includes antenna analysis) and GPS functions are included.

The entire design is Open Source. The electronics are designed and laid out to be easy to understand and tinker with. In addition to source code, schematics, board layout and parts lists, articles and videos describing the theory of the design are being created.

Examples of DVB USB sticks that can be utilized as SDR receivers and as cheap as $10

rtl-sdr looks to be a great source for utilizing these cheap receivers

Microsoft are showing interest in SDR with Ziria - Wireless Programming for Hardware Dummies

Software-defined radios (SDR) have a potential to bring major innovation in wireless networking design. However, their impact so far has been limited due to complex programming tools. Ziria addresses this problem. It consists of a novel programming language and an optimizing compiler. It is able to synthesize a very efficient SDR code from a high-level PHY description written in Ziria language. is an open-source platform (GNU GPL v3) for experimentation in wireless systems primarily targeting cellular technologies (LTE/LTE-Advanced and beyond) and rapidly-deployable mesh/ad-hoc networks | Users can build an LTE compliant base station with USRP B210 with the OCXO for less than 1900 Euros

OpenAirInterface: An Open LTE Network in a PC

OpenBTS_UMTS software is a Linux application that uses a software-defined radio to present a standard 3GPP air interface to user devices, while simultaneously presenting those devices as SIP endpoints to the Internet. This forms the basis of a new type of wireless network which promises to expand coverage to unserved and underserved markets while unleashing a platform for innovation, including offering support for emerging network technologies, such as those targeted at the Internet of Things

Internet Simplicity, Flexibility & Costs:

  • It’s all software, it’s all IP, and it’s open for innovation.
  • A handset or modem appears as a SIP device, without the need for any special software on the device.
  • For small networks, the network hardware can be reduced to a single commodity server with a software-defined radio.
  • Any IP connection can serve as backhaul, including point-to-point WiFi.
  • All of the software runs on Linux and connects with commonly used IP protocols, so the core network can be virtualized as a cloud service.
  • Proprietary software found in a conventional cellular network can be replaced with open-source applications.
  • Because the new network is based on IETF internet-age protocols,developers do not require additional training to deal with archaic legacy technologies

libLTE is a free and open source LTE library for SDR mobile terminals and base stations. The library does not rely on any external dependencies or frameworks.

The project contains a set of Python tools for the automatic code generation of modules for popular SDR frameworks, including GNURadio, ALOE++, IRIS, and OSSIE. These tools are easy to use and adapt for generating targets for specific platforms or frameworks.

Cognitive Radio is another area of experimentation and in use at Virginia Tech:

Cognitive Radio Network (CORNET) Testbed (uses the libLTE library)

What’s the difference between adaptive, cognitive, and intelligent radios?

Adaptive radio: An adaptive radio can monitor its own performance as well as modify the associated parameters in order to constantly adapt and achieve the most efficient communication link (the quality of service, or QoS).

Cognitive radio: Cognitive radios provide a step further in complexity compared to adaptive radios. A cognitive radio is aware of its environment and state of operation (e.g. localisation, RF spectrum usage, and local regulations). A cognitive radio can make behavioural decisions by constantly comparing and analysing its environment against the radio objectives and possibilities in order to maximize the communication link’s QoS
Intelligent radio: Intelligent radios are cognitive radios that are capable of self-learning (often related to the concept of “machine learning”). Self-learning radio provides the end-user with the possibility of increasing performance even further by performing self-adaptation to meet cognitive objectives and by making decisions based on experience

SDR in space

CubeSat SAFEcube?

The CubeSat Project is an international collaboration of over 40 universities, high schools, and private firms developing picosatellites containing scientific, private, and government payloads. A CubeSat is a 10 cm cube with a mass of up to 1.33 kg

SWIFT Radios for CubeSats

Google have developed radioreceiver

An application to listen to broadcast stereo FM and AM radio from your Chrome browser or your ChromeBook computer using a $15 USB digital TV tuner

SAFE as a SDR ChromeApp :smile:

Research: Ant-Based Routing Schemes for Mobile Ad Hoc Networks PDF


In this paper, we have presented an overview of swarm intelligence applied to routing schemes in ad hoc networks. Inherent properties of swarm intelligence as observed in nature include: massive system scalability, emergent behavior and intelligence from low complexity local interactions, autonomy, and stigmergy, or communication through the environment.

These properties are desirable for many types of networks. Ant-based approaches hold great promise for solving numerous problems of adhoc power aware networks. Swarm intelligence however is a new field and much work remains to be done. Comparison of the performance of swarm based algorithms has been done by emulation. Analytic proof and models of the swarm based algorithm performance remain topics of ongoing research.

Mobile Clouds: Exploiting Distributed Resources in Wireless, Mobile and Social Networks


From what I could figure out of the article, it still uses existing infrastructure, meaning all those cell towers are needed. Someone paid for those to be installed, pays to maintain them, and for improvements. This is not free. You are using their equipment, and they are (and should be) allowed to charge you for it. Just like each of us pays our ISP (infrastructure) to let others use you connection on maidsafe, we will need to pay cell companies to maintain their infrastructure as well.

There will eventually be those companies that loosen restrictions, and as that happens, those of us who give a crap will hopefully move there in a landslide and make a statement. That should start the avalanche.

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I dont think so, I’ll keep updating the post as I find out more about SDR…the Nashville Meshnet is interesting in that they are attempting to put cjdns over mesh.


I watch with interest folks, its only a matter of time I am sure. Lets hope you are right Chris (no offence Wes, but I really hope you are wrong in this case). It would me brilliant if true. Anyway want to say thinks I have little research time thee days so this is mega helpful.

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I was responding to the content of the article he first linked - not the tech itself. What is (post edit) now being talked about is being the “cell towers” in which case, we can be the infrastructure. Oust the cell companies all together and that would be fantastic. I’m hopeful too, and thanks for doing the research I didn’t have time to do Chris.

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No worries, I’m going to try and condense this post to reflect the current state of play with SDR. There’s quite a few groups playing around with it, but they do not seem to have made the connection with the amazing pCell tech which in turn adds nothing to decentralization from what I can tell.

I only know the basics of pcell, but I could see it being useful to give everyone the bandwidth needed to, for example, run maidsafe from mobiles. However, if we can do it solo, without the centralized servers of pcell handling everything, then that is awesome.


I’m not sure that pcell really does whats necessary for a mesh network because pcell is only attempting to solve the downlink problem. While it apparently does a revolutionary job at that, what pcell does not do, what it is NOT TRYING to do, is solve the uplink problem. A mesh network requires equal ability to upload and download and therefore requires equally robust uplinks and downlinks, which pcell does not provide.

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@chrisfostertv Cutting the cord on telecom/cable is cutting the cord on sponsored government. They will whine about return on equity as they do with neutrality and they will also whine about jobs. But when it comes down to it, if we can cut this cord we will end working harder and harder for less and less without limit. We will end the nonsense of having to heat utterly useless elites tell us that we can’t afford Social Security or emergency rooms and other such criminal evil nonsense. Cutting this cord means pulling the plug on them. We can end arbitrary nonsensical rule by money and their efforts to confuse our very speech with their useless money. Want to end nonsense like austerity, this is the way to do it.

In response to “people who can’t afford to pay can access emergency rooms” came “what are we supposed to buy everyone a car?”… at the bottom of the crash was heard “they should take two full time jobs for half the wage,”

I was looking at this a few months ago and there are some older threads on this site on this topic. I’ve also been following Perlman for a while. Onlive from a cloud perspective was pretty revolutionary but his service experienced a content strike. Looks like he only covered half the problem intentionally but its also a Trojan horse it would seem. Kind of hoping its Perlman’s revenge.

Onlive in a way could have been, although centralized, because of the extreme bundling and ad free approach almost as threatening to the content sponsor cartel as efforts like Flattr and Upcent are in principle. It was more aggressive than Valve’s model. Nothing stops both sides of this from being applied to mesh. The servers he uses to achieve the magic don’t look that heavy. He may be using some custom asics, and it may be like the tech he applied in OnLive to broader wired net.

It does seem like software defined radio can do is not solve the spectrum bottleneck but solve the latency issue for meshWould I be wrong in suspecting that this could better enable a distributed computer to run on a mesh of wireless nodes (SAFEphones) to handle the processing overhead of the upload and down load. Perlman calls the tech distributed input distributed output.

Not sure, but I’ve reached out to Michael Ossmann for some feedback on the topic of Mesh.

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@chrisfostertv Thank you. Getting a mesh that could give us reliable hardward to build a completely end user owned high performance network is vital- completely end user owned at least across wide geographic areas. It with ProjectSAFE would be like high quality, low cost, super quick charging electric cars that as a rule took all their power from roof top or batteries powered by roof top solar- also owned by the electric car owners themselves. A complete cord cutting solution.

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Wow. @chrisfostertv I just wanted to thank you for your consistently high quality, well researched posts. Your contribution is appreciated.


I agree.

As Paul Hughes said in the blog above "At some point, open-source software radios are going to hit the streets, regardless of the laws in place, and once that genie is out of the bottle, there is no putting it back in."
From what @christfostertv posted it seems like we have that now. It belongs in something like Indiephone running ProjectSAFE.


Thanks for this great post @chrisfostertv
Actually all your posts are great, I got a lot to learn from your sir



I congratulate chrisfostertv Great CONTRIBUTION, best wishes for you


I´m all new to this, so can the SAFEnet be able to work with a meshnet, like cjdns, or is it dependent on the existing Internet infrastructure?


For the time being, it relies on the existing Internet. But sometime down the road, when we (the community and other like minded fellows) build our own reliable infrastructure, we can migrate over to a mesh. It will take a fair amount of work to make that happen from my understanding of how the project works - and we’re a ways off from building the network required to make it happen. However, as the it becomes a reality, I’m sure there will plenty of devs willing to lend a helping hand to make the transfer.


So what are the us laws that block SDR? If two individuals setup SDR transmitters and receivers what are the chances of getting caught and what are the consequences?

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Good question, if your in the USA maybe you can research and report back to benefit others in your region.

From what I understand there are talks going on regarding freeing up a consistent slice of whitespace band on an international basis.

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Yes indeed:

Unique Software-Defined Radio (SDR) technology - The i500 is a future-proof platform delivering 100 Megabits per second out of the box, plus software-upgradeability to 150 Mbps LTE, carrier aggregation, and TD LTE—all on the same processor.


With conventional hard-wired solutions, you have to instantiate all signal-processing algorithms used to receive and decode the signal as separate areas of silicon. This results in a high-cost solution with inherent inflexibility. Plus, verification of these separate hardware operating modes is arduous and problematic. This leads to a solution that can’t provide optimum performance under all circumstances, as inevitable compromises are made with algorithm parameters.

In contrast, implementing these complex algorithms in software eliminates the need to always to use the same receiver architecture. For example, a menu of receiver algorithms—including rake, advanced receivers, and receive diversity—can be made available to the modem without incurring increased cost or increased silicon verification time
The Adaptive Wireless solution automatically selects the optimum mixture of algorithms that will maximize system performance. Channel conditions and other performance metrics are continuously monitored to determine the best receiver configuration and deliver the highest possible performance.

This dynamic receiver architecture delivers dramatic performance throughput gains and receiver sensitivity advantages. Files download in under half the time of other solutions. Web browsing is also noticeably faster. Network carriers achieve this dramatic user experience advantage with more than twice the sector capacity and a consequent 50% decrease in per-megabyte delivery cost.

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