A New Kind of Net Neutrality
Posted on January 5, 2018 by Matt Louden
It’s only been a few weeks since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturned net neutrality. Since then, however, businesses have already begun revisiting their corporate IT strategies to ensure consistent mobile connectivity moving forward—regardless of whether an Internet Service Provider (ISP) can provide it or not.
For communities that have been passed over or underserved by traditional ISP service models (or for those that just desire a smaller, locally sourced internet instead), mesh networking is viewed by many global experts as a legitimate alternative capable of providing the protections net neutrality once offered. Mesh networking also eliminates any financial incentive associated with prioritizing content and/or user access differently, meaning its popularity could explode once ISPs start making their own rules.
So, What Exactly is Mesh Networking?
If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s essentially an internet model that provides user access by connecting multiple radio frequencies, devices, and endpoints (a.k.a. nodes) directly and dynamically. This means each data packet that’s communicated across a Wireless Mesh Network (WMN) is handled as efficiently as possible, regardless of how many devices are currently connected.
Mesh networking takes away network connectivity and accessibility controls from a potentially non-neutral ISP and places them in the hands of local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit community groups instead.[tweet]
Essentially, mesh networking takes away network connectivity and accessibility controls from a potentially non-neutral ISP and places them in the hands of local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit community groups instead. While mass migration to this model could create never-before-seen enterprise security concerns, one thing’s already certain: publicly owned internet service is responsible for the fastest internet connection in the US.
Mesh Networking in Action
Some communities took a more proactive approach and decided to implement their own WMN before net neutrality was overturned (or, in some cases, before it was ever even a debate). Did that risk pay off? Let’s dive deeper and explore a few of today’s prominent mesh networks to find out:
NYC Mesh – Through a ‘supernode’ connected directly to the internet via fiber optic cable and a vast volunteer network of point-to-point routers installed in windows and on rooftops, NYC Mesh is an active, community-owned WMN that covers almost all of downtown New York City. And, thanks to a recently added second ‘supernode’ (as well as two more being planned and well on their way), connected city residents can enjoy a speedy, stable mobile internet connection from a wide variety of devices.
People’s Open Network – Based in Oakland, CA, the People’s Open Network is a newly developed WMN that’s still in its infancy. Consumers can join the network simply by purchasing a dual-band internet router and letting the group program it with open-source software. Once plugged in, the device then connects to the active mesh network and doubles as a hotspot that automatically connects with others in range. The group even runs educational workshops to spread awareness and help the public learn to create their own mesh networking solutions.
Guifi.net – In Spain, the active Guifi.net mesh network provides internet access to large areas of the country across more than 30,000 separate nodes—that area will only continue to expand moving forward.
How will the repeal of net neutrality impact your company’s mobility program? Ask one of our enterprise mobility experts today. If you want to learn more about net neutrality, new mobile technologies, and what IT decision makers think about every day, be sure to download MOBI’s first-ever enterprise mobility research report.