Huge Potential For Mesh Networking In Mobile Phones

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Apple’s iOS 7 contains a highly interesting but until now very much under-appreciated feature that Apple calls Multipeer Connectivity.

Another name for this feature is mesh network and it potentially can change the world. Basically, a mesh network is a network topology, in which each participant is connected to every other participant. This results in a dense network that’s particularly resilient towards failures and tampering from outside.

In contrast to that the computer networks we commonly use for the most part employ a client-server model. In this model, if I want to send a message from client A to client B this message has to be routed through a server where it can be intercepted by a third party.

In a mesh network a message from client A to client B is routed through a direct connection with no detour thus allowing for high security and privacy standards.

Traditionally, the main problem with mesh networking used to be wiring. Connecting each network node to every other network node is much more complex than traditional client-server-based wiring to the extent that in most office buildings it might not even be possible because it would require more space than most floors can accommodate.

With the advent of wireless networking however, things have changed. Wireless networking renders that major drawback of mesh networks irrelevant.

The potential for mesh networks is huge. Not only does such a network topology allow participants to avoid being eavesdropped by spooks and other parties with sinister goals, but it also helps you with remaining anonymous if you so choose at any given moment.

Another intriguing aspect of wireless mesh networking is connectivity where there’s no Internet connection: Peers in a mesh network can exchange data with no need for an Internet host to serve that data. After Internet connection is reestablished the data can then be synchronized with a server again.

Scenarios like areas with low Internet coverage or disaster areas come into mind when thinking about possible applications.

Finally, mesh networks provide decentralization, that is: There’s no need for a central authority that for example controls all your eMail, contact or calendar data but data can be distributed throughout the network. A legitimate party can then query its data while a third party can only access fractions of this data, which are useless in isolation. If you want to find out more about this particular idea check out @bastianallgeier and @Pinboard.

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