The elephant in the room of any discussion about the future of Internet is the mesh network. How can we bypass the faulty mega-ISP model, and network peer-to-peer (P2P) instead?
Satellites are usually mentioned as possible solutions. Facebook and SpaceX have talked about launching their own fleets to provide global Wi-Fi. But these projects wouldn't provide real P2P networking – they'd still be third party, single-points-of-failure.
Projects like BitMesh, however, are laying the software groundwork for a real P2P solution to materialize.
Prototype Is Here
BitMesh, which has been called the potential “Uber of ISPs,” recently tweeted the video below. It features co-founder Chris Smith connecting his computer to a Wi-Fi signal called “BitMesh.” He sends a Bitcoin micropayment to connect to the network for his chosen amount of time. The owner of that bandwidth, whomever it happens to be, receives Smith's payment in return for sharing his signal.
Highly useful among BitMesh's simple features is its pricing mechanism. Much like Uber, which charges “surge prices” during times of high demand to prevent major supply shortages, BitMesh also rejects the fixed price model. Their homepage states:
“Negotiation of the price of data takes place in a local 'marketplace,' achieving a fair price for Internet without requirement for a contract or third party escrow. The end result is cheaper, more robust Internet service and Bitcoin in more people’s hands.”
Notably, this supply and demand-driven pricing model is moving in the opposite direction of the mega-ISP supported net “neutrality” model.
An Emerging Trend
Uber became massively popular because taking a taxi – if you can even get one – is an expensive and mildly unpleasant experience. If BitMesh takes off, it will be because people feel the same way about mega-ISPs. The BitMesh team seems to be betting on it with this statement:
“People use the Internet all the time. They usually pay for it in big globs, and they can't resell it. ... We've lived through and are burned out on the contract-based model for buying Internet.”
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