The Mesh Potato is an Open Hardware project to create a wireless Access Point (AP) combined with an Asynchronous Telephony Adapter (ATA). This project is inspired by small mesh-capable wireless APs like the Meraki Mini and the Open-Mesh Accton Router but is designed to address the needs of developing countries. In particular, the delivery of affordable voice is a critical service. Also, the Mesh Potato is being designed for rugged environments so that it can be housed indoors or outdoors and can be easily secured.
Specifically, the plan is to get the mesh potato to work with mobile telephones so that so that mobile telecoms can be deployed rapidly, cheaply and robustly into disasters, developing and remote areas, and plain old remote places where the huge cost of mobile telephone towers makes it too expensive to provide coverage. A neat hack that Paul’s building into the plan is that these P2P phone networks will work with your regular old phone number, without requiring access to the internet (seriously).
The entire thing will be prototyped over Android, and step-by-step instructions will be made available so you can start up a mobile telcom right in the comfort of your own home (some assembly required).
The project started at the first Village Telco workshop in June 2008.
More data on the Mesh Potato FAQ
Steps of development are documented on the Village Telco blog.