Government support for open source wireless mesh

Summary:The group has sought NSF funding before, unsuccessfully. What made the difference this time? It might be the success people inspired by the work had in bringing broadband back quickly after Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesia tsunami.

It's just $500,000, but it's better than nothing.

The National Science Foundation has announced a grant to the Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUCWN) for help in developing open source standards in wireless mesh.

The area is home to the University of Illinois (go Illini) and I hope it's not a coincidence that UI is also where the Mosaic browser was developed. UI is a partner in the grant.

The project is spearheaded by Sascha Meinrath (left), a longtime leader in the technology of wireless mesh.

While most open source projects target software companies like Microsoft or Oracle, the game in this case is much bigger -- the Bells and cable operators. A wireless mesh, based on open standards, could reach competitive fiber and easily bypass these gatekeepers, guaranteeing competitive broadband.

Such is the hope, anyway. But while I talk and write about it a lot, Sascha is actually doing it.

The group has sought NSF funding before, unsuccessfully. What made the difference this time? It might be the success people inspired by the work had in bringing broadband back quickly after Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesia tsunami.

The specific code works in the network layer, and helps increase signal strength as well as get rid of redundancies. It's available at the CUCWN Web site and is currently at version 0.6.0

Topics: Wi-Fi

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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