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Tibet's Mesh 82

siriuskase writes "Volunteers are building a low-cost wireless mesh network to provide cheap, reliable data and telephony to community. I would love to see a free wireless mesh that's not dependent on any government or corporation take over the world."
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Tibet's Mesh

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  • by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @04:59PM (#15929984)
    Finally, free Tibet!
  • DIY! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:03PM (#15930021) Homepage
    If you want to set up a mesh network in your own neighbourhood then you can take a look at a free, open source [] mesh network software package from Mitre corp. I used to use it in a past life to build networks that were adequate for VOIP with some tuning (and a lot of broadcast voodoo), and the ability to route traffic via more than one end node is fantastic. Set up a base station in every home with an 802.11g backhaul (and decent antennas) to provide the basic mesh, terminate in one or two houses with a fast cable/DSL connection and bang, instant multihomed network for everyone worth pi geek points.
    • by Ninwa ( 583633 ) *
      How do I expect to be able to convince my neighbors to go out and buy a wireless base station if they don't have one? Obviously a very idealistic and unpractical solution. :-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by also-rr ( 980579 )
        Ah, someone who missed out on the heady days of being a wireless systems engineer in 2002.

        The business plan went like this:
        1. Buy everyone in the area a base station, install high capacity network links, give out free mesh-capable PDAs.
        2. ????
        3. Profit!
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )
        Do what any other advertiser does - convince them they need the next-gen technology to keep up with everyone else and to communicate with everyone else.
  • Admins reluctantly installed a content filter at one site because so many adults were visiting porn sites that the network's limited bandwidth became choked.

    "They found it a bit awkward to tell people to stop, because apparently some of the people doing this surfing were quite high in the organization," says Ben-David. "So we put in a porn filter, and suddenly traffic usage dropped a lot."

    With all of the innovations that the online porn industry has created thanks to the large demand I can almost see the po

  • Some of the technical challenges he faces are unique. This may be one of the only networks in the world where antennas must be monkey-proofed. "Monkeys are everywhere," says Ben-David. "Often, you'll see a huge, gorilla-sized monkey hang on to an antenna, swing from it, eat it, try to break it. We lost a lot of cables that way, but now we use very strong equipment so that even monkeys can't break it."

    Its the evil monkey in the close conspiracy to bring about the dark age of man, we can't let this happe
  • by Devv ( 992734 )
    This is really cool. So if everyone over there just got bit torrent they could have lot's of fun without being stalked?
  • Well. . . (Score:2, Funny)

    by Slicebo ( 221580 )
    . . . here's another fine mesh you've gotten us into!
  • I always thought if someone could organize it, there are enough wireless APs out there that could form a type of second web. Since it would be owned by private owners and upgraded by private owners it would be a wikinet. Where I live I have been working on a plan to join all the aps I work on for clients into one giant network. Need a feasable way to do it though. Bandwith sharing, a method for hopping across the least used APs, and a self healing topology kind of like a token ring. The technologies a
    • by tgd ( 2822 )
      Hop in a car and drive across the country.

      Its a great way to learn about the US, it makes for a beautiful vacation, and an excellent way to really get a sense what the population densitity of the US really is.

      Then ask yourself what the practicality of a "free" mesh network is. Its a noble idea, but the US is a pretty sparse place, and its a lot more densely populated than most of the world.
  • Perhaps a push for technology in Tibet could give the Dalai Lama an opportunity to set up his own blog? I mean....maybe it sounds like a trivial thing to some people, but if I recall, he has written a book...or at least one in recent times has written a book that was an interesting read for me.
    • Perhaps a push for technology in Tibet could give the Dalai Lama an opportunity to set up his own blog?

      Er, the DL doesn't live in Tibet. Hasn't since he fled in 1959 during the Chinese invasion.

      He writes books read by millions, gives high-profile interviews, makes public appearances. Doesn't need a blog to be heard.

  • by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:08PM (#15930079) Homepage Journal
    " I would love to see a free wireless mesh that's not dependent on any government or corporation take over the world."

    Then it would be a de-facto government. A bunch of overlaping competeting wireless meshes would be safer.
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:10PM (#15930107) Journal
    Dharamsala's growing mesh is not open to laptop-toting visitors. The bandwidth its operators have to share is limited, costly and much of it comes from BSNL, the government-controlled telecom provider. So for now, access is limited mostly to schools, government offices and nonprofits, which pay a nominal fee and host equipment to further the network's reach.

    Admins reluctantly installed a content filter at one site because so many adults were visiting porn sites
    Contrast with: "I would love to see a free wireless mesh that's not dependent on any government or corporation take over the world."

    Wouldn't we all?

    Ultimately, those mesh networks are going to be tied into Gov't or corporate owned backbones. Mesh networks are not going to be the solution for developing countries and I don't understand how anyone expects an independant mesh network to magically appear.

    Like anything else, it will require (expensive) investments in infrastructure. Or am I missing something?
    • by COMON$ ( 806135 )
      Why would they have to hit corporate or gov't backbones? Just like any open system we will have to rely on thousands of users to provide things like DNS, webservers, and coordinate IPs. Difficult, yes, impossible no.
      • is on the backbone
        So is
        So is **insert every website known to man**
        Unless you can convince all of them to make the switch (or serve in parallel) your network will be nothing but a mesh of people with no content ...
        • by COMON$ ( 806135 )
          If you want to be independent you have to be willing to break from the system. **every website known to man** is not on the internet, let alone the backbone. For a good example check out the plethora of closed networks out there, intranets for businesses. We will just have to re-create everything from scratch. Should I never have used wikipedia because it had little to no entries in the beginning?

          what about ebay in the beginning?

          We start to create a new internet, user ran, it may take

        • You bridge a private network to the public network similar to a NAT intranet.

          You use IPv6 for your private, and use number space outside the IPv4 range.

          So you can still get routable IP's, but outside the core US IPv4 number range.

          For DNS you use [] or you setup your own if you like.

          You can run two sets of DNS, the non-US monopolized one, and the US one.

          I am sure some technical difficulties would still be incurred, but this
          would knock out some of the bigger ones other than getting a lot of
    • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:36PM (#15930344) Homepage
      Like anything else, it will require (expensive) investments in infrastructure. Or am I missing something?

      Yes, I did used to do this for a living (and would do it again if someone wants to pay me for it).

      In theory there is nothing to stop a world spanning global mesh, except of course for:
      1. limitations of the speed of light
      2. the size of the routing table
      3. lack of trust in intermediate nodes
      4. node induced latency
      5. oceans
      Let's say that your networking technology has a max range of 100m, and the town is a very densly inhabited 10km square, which is pretty much a best case. Getting accross town requires 100 hops and if each of them adds 10ms latency (a pretty low estimate) thats 1000ms. How do you fancy playing quake with 1000ms of lag?

      The *best* use for mesh networks is as a complimentary network. Because bandwidth rises in a geometric relationship with the number of nodes (x^n is the limit where x is link bandwidth, but it won't happen due to technology limitations and a bunch of other things) as a very high capacity bulk carrier it probably cant be beaten. Combine it with a smart information distribution system and information redundancy* and you could do some very impressive things.

      That way you free up you *real* bandwidth, the latency middle ground of mesh-to-wireless-direct-backhaul, for web browsing as all of the porn and youtube junk is transiting the bulk delivery system. Add on one-hop-to-wired-PoP for latency critical apps such as VoIP and you gain a seamless, layered, high capacity and high performance network.

      *I wrote a paper looking at using freenet plus an overlying signing mechanism and co-ordinated seeding as a reliable distribution system in 2003, I'll have to dig it ou and publish it some day.
  • Between the relatively low reliability of wireless access points (compared to wired connections) and the fact that there will be bottlenecks at the wired connection(s) they are propagating, are wireless mesh networks really the best way to go (even discounting the monkey issue)? True, it will be better than nothing, but it sounds pricey and difficult to a degree that the benefits won't be worth it.

  • "I would love to see a free wireless mesh that's not dependent on any government or corporation take over the world."

    There are going to be costs, even if it is started by volunteers. So, where's the money coming from?

    Personally, seeing the way that the commercial providers behave, I'd go for gov't run, or at least gov't managed even if it were run by someone else. They could provide low speed access for free to everyone but charge for everything else.
  • Maybe a world-wide mesh would best be implemented by licensed volunteers, like the ham radio model, but without the FCC. Maybe the EFF instead. :)
  • In don't have a proof handy, but intuitevely I have the feeling that unless the links on the mesh network provide some insane amount of bandwidth, there is a certain limit to how many nodes (of course it would depend on topology also) can operate smoothly. Beyond a certain point a certain node would basically be using all bandwidth to route packets back and forth, effectively becoming the bottleneck. I don't know if this could be alleviated for ultra-dense topologies though. Any good references, anyone?
  • More info on this... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dougman ( 908 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:28PM (#15930295)
    The article seems to be /.'d, so here's some additional [] information [] on this [].

    The submitter of this article said, "I would love to see a free wireless mesh that's not dependent on any government or corporation take over the world."

    I'd love to see everyone in their dream house with a luxury car getting 250 MPG that's not dependent on any government or corporation.

    I think both those statements have the same likelyhood of coming true.

    I'd guess that 98% of Americans consider sewer, water, and electrical essential no matter where they live. I would guess that internet access still falls below those three. Fat-pipe internet access may eventually be a true utility that is natuarlly expected to exist anywhere, but it isn't there yet. Even when it does, why would anyone think it wouldn't depend on any government or corporation? All major utilities require BOTH government and corporations. If anything, it will move further away from small local ISP's (like internet and electricity started with). Huge infrastructure with high reliability and reasonable cost demands this type of change.

    Having recently come out of a community planning meeting, our small town of 600+ has determined that wireless internet access for all could be a big another way to try and lure younger folks (like myself) that are choosing between other small towns in the area. I'm in the very first stages of feasabiltiy - looking at all the options. The problems of course come down to who pays for it. In the case of our aging community, a lot of folks don't see the need or even want access. That means they don't want any of their tax dollars going to fund it (never mind that my tax dollars fund their senior center and senior bus). On top of that, the local telco isn't very excited to see their individual DSL subscriptions go away either. Then there is the issue of hardware and support. With a town of this size, it is nearly impossible to have 24x7 support. These are just a few of the things that go into the hopper when you're looking at building the infrastructure of small towns which at the end of the day really are what make up the mesh between the 2-5 metro locations in each state. Doing this without local government or a corporate sponsor will be difficult. If this article has any detail (when it's available again!), I hope I can learn some slick new tricks.
    • Doing this without local government or a corporate sponsor will be difficult.
      The company that is providing the bandwidth (BSNL) is an Indian "government-controlled telecom", which I found to be very good news, since I was expecting a Chinese company to be involved (so the Chinese Gov't can censor the content).

      Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited []
      • From the article title, I also expected it to be about Occupied Tibet, probably Lhasa, as opposed to Tibet-In-Exile in Dharamsala. Tibet is of course one of the most heavily censored topics in China, after Falun Gong and maybe a few other thoughtcrimes, but it's not like India doesn't have censorship too - remember the recent blog blocking the other week?

        On the other hand, if they had Chinese telecom companies running it, they'd get much better service, even out in the hinterlands. I've dealt with both

    • by genooma ( 856335 )
      I'd guess that 98% of Americans consider sewer, water, [..] essential no matter where they live.
      But we could use the internet to serve those!
      After all it's just a series of tubes.
  • by viking2000 ( 954894 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:43PM (#15930397)
    I will contribute 20 km to this network. I have a free wifi zone about 2km radius around my house, and two 24db antennas that connects to nearby users upto 10km away.

    You can find me in San jose, CA.

    Maybe sombody can carry me to google in Mountain View?

    What you need and where to get it:

    Link analysis for free: in.cgi []

    Single antenna AP: Dlink DWL-2100AP

    Good low cost antennas and accessories: []
    (Dlink connector is called RP-SMA)

    Times Microwave will ship you a free sample of 20' of LMR-400 with connectors (DIY)

    1. Dont use "Cantennas".
    2. Yagi is better than parabolic
    3. Use spark arrestors when you go outdoor
    4. Use 2.4GHz splitters and hook up more antennas to one AP.
    5. Use filters when co-locating APs

    Asterisk: Free phones for the neighbourhood
    VLC media player: Everybody shares their movies

    Will not really need that big of a neighbourhood before you dont even need to connect to the net or the phone sevice or TV!
  • In Soviet Tibet mesh frees you...

  • "I would love to see a free wireless mesh that's not dependent on any government or corporation take over the world."

    So you're saying that this mesh network in Tibet isn't dependent on the Chinese government's blessing?

  • Siriuskase, your post is an interesting one but I don't understand the jab against corporations that you threw in at the end. Corporations are merely voluntary associations between individuals. Buying products from a corporation is voluntary. Becoming an employee of a corporation is voluntary. That sounds like a model of a free and open society to me. Nobody is coerced into any transactions with a corporation. That's a lot different then dealing with an oppressive government.
    • Corporations are merely voluntary associations between individuals.

      No, corporations are legal persons created by the government (via the issuance of a charter), immortal persons with all of the rights and few of the responsibilities of real people.

      Creating corporations is one way that the capitalist state helps to concentrate control of economic resources into the hands of a minority.

  • I'd love to see a wireless mesh card that could be plugged into laptops and desktops easily. The proposed card would have two functions:
    1.) Work as a standard 802.11 card that can connect to multiple acess points at the same time.
    2.) Broadcast it's own 802.11 Access point connection so that other laptops/desktops in the area can share the connection.

    In addition to this card, I'd like to have a setting on my wireless router that allows me to create a bandwidth limited open access point that anyone in ra
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:38PM (#15931217) Homepage Journal
    The article's not about Tibet, it's about Tibetan exiles in India. This is made clear in the very first paragraph. This is a sad commentary on how few Slashdoters RTFA. In this case, neither the submitter nor the editor did, or else they wouldn't have put "Tibet" in the title. And not a single poster has commented on this mistake so far. Very sad.
  • by bushwhacker2000 ( 992073 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:23PM (#15931432)
    I second the above poster, Dharamsala, INDIA will never be Tibet. Yes, the article is about bringing WiFi to Tibetans (in exile) but it certainly IS NOT about bringing WiFi to Tibet.

    Nevertheless, thanks for posting it, I enjoyed the article. For those who have never been there, if you ever visit India consider going WAY out of your way to visit Dharamsala. Himichal Pradesh is probably one of the poorest states in India (after Bihar), but it is rather pretty up in the mountains. It certainly does not have the climate of Tibet either, don't worry about freezing to death in the winter, etc. To sum it up, if you ever read Tintin in Tibet as a kid (and liked it) Dharamsala is worth a visit. That said, Dharamsala is about the only thing worth seeing in HP (not kidding). If you go, bring some old computer gear to donate.

    If you go, stay at the guest house down the hill from the Dalai Lama's monastery, it is run by a cool Geshe (Geshe is like the equivalent of a Ph.D. in Tibetan Buddhism) who speaks English well and who is also quite kind.
  • Net access in Tibet (Score:2, Informative)

    by akuzi ( 583164 )
    Net connectivity in Tibet is surprisingly cheap and fast, alteast in the main towns, certainly a lot better than in Dharamsala - which has broadband access, but it's a little bit unreliable.

    In Tibet - even in some very remote towns, such as Nyalam, you can see rooms of kids playing MMORPG games in crowded internet cafes - with connections with a similar speed to those in Europe or the US. Of course they are sitting behind the Great Firewall but there are advantages of being part of China's very developed ne
  • First off, this Wi-Fi mesh is being built in the major Tibetan exile community of Dharamsala (India). After the Chinese communist dictator Mao Zedong (the most murderous character in history) took over China in 1949, his first international move was to send hordes of "people's liberation army" (PLA) soldiers across the border into Tibet in 1950. By 1959 things had gotten unbearable for the Tibetans who staged an uprising against the Chinese but it was put down violently by the well-armed PLA. At that point
    • Quote from ddos article:
      "It was down for over 30 minutes," said Ben-David. "I couldn't log in because thousands of http processes were running, demanding resources from the MySql database."

      Good admin would have configured mysql/apache/middletier in a way that a) apache rejects excessive requests b) middletier doesnt clog up the mysql connections c) mysql would only allow certain amount of concurrent requests d) all of the above.

      Stuff like above happens when someone just drops prebuild binaries with default
  • A real wireless mesh site :) [] - includes a little live camera demo. Tell me what you think.
  • Is there anything fundmental stopping us from doing the same? Yes, yes, I know, we may not really need it, though the idea certainly has something going for it even though most of us can easily get online. What I mean is - how about the legal side of it? I can imagine that there may be laws controlling these things, which they seem to be happily free from in Tibet, evil communists though they be.

  • Website mentioned in yesterday's article experienced a DOS. They suspect a Chinese based attack, not a slashdot effect.

    "There was no immediately evident single source for the attack, but it started right after an extensive series of China-based scans," said Ben-David.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle