OPENMESH Is Seeking Alternatives To Egypt-Style Internet Blackouts

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Galvanized by the unprecedented Internet shutdown in Egypt, angel investor Shervin Pishevar has launched OPENMESH a forum for people who want to discuss ways of preventing governments from blocking communications networks. The site (which is admittedly sparse at the moment) was up within hours of Pishevar tweeting out his ideas, designed and built by followers @Laksman and @garyjaybrooks.

Pishevar, whose Twitter account has served as a mini-#Egypt /#Jan25 news source since the protests started on the 25th, explains the inspiration behind the site.

“The idea is that if the government takes down the backbone for the internet in a country (like Egypt has done), takes down the mobile cellular networks and potentially the fixed line communications line there has to be other ways for people to communicate. Some of these ideas include coming up with ad hoc mesh networking solutions in a city or nation to support peer-to-peer communications.

You could have simple ideas like people communicating over bluetooth on their mobile phones (even if the mobile network is shutdown) as has happened in Iran and now Egypt. You could have WIMAX pumped in via ships in international waters powered by satellite internet connections pointed to nearby cities. You could have mobile routers in backpacks, cars and rooftops all interconnecting to create a further mesh solutions.”

Currently there are few alternatives apart from dialup if a government forces ISP providers to suspend service, but that shouldn’t be the case in the future. “The last bastion of dictatorship is the router,” says Pishevar.

If you’re interested in volunteering or getting involved in any way you can visit OpenMeshProject.org or tweet @Shervin.

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