SAN JOSE, Calif. – A team of researchers at Rutgers University have launched the latest of a group of wireless network initiatives aiming to create a more open alternative to the Internet. MondoNet aims to enable a mesh network that lets a hybrid collection of new and existing Wi-Fi, WiMax and other wireless devices connect to each other without going through a central carrier.
A draft proposal for MondoNet describes its premise as well as how it will gather the best of existing technologies for mobile ad-hoc wireless mesh networks (MANETs). The project's goal to create a system that provides both greater freedom and privacy for individual users than today's Web.
Aram Sinnreich, organizer of MondoNet and an associate professor at Rutgers, outlined the proposal in a recent video. Today's Web is subject to censorship and manipulation due to close links between a handful of carriers and their governments, he said, citing examples in China, Egypt and the U.S.
"All the information [on the Internet] has to go through the eye of the needle of a few companies beholden to their governments," Sinnreich said. "What we need is a new network," he said.
MondoNet aims to be as fast and feature-rich as the Net while being more immune to censorship and spying. Researchers hope to get funding to create a prototype of their concept in the Rutgers area.
Many legal and technical challenges remain open, the researchers said. For example, they propose use of tcpcrypt for security, although they admit it is not immune to malicious attacks. It's also not clear how MANETs will get permission to let users act as broadcasters or what form of licensing MondoNet will use for its software.
The effort aims to adopt techniques from a number of other pioneering efforts in MANETs including:
- BATMAN: A Better Approach to Mobile ad-hoc Networks launched earlier this year.
- Babel: A distance vector routing protocol
- Daihinia: A tool to turn Wi-Fi devices into a mesh network.
- Freedom Box: A simplified Linux server for distributed networks
- GNUnet: A software framework for secure peer-to-peer networking