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Could 'Peernet' be separate from today's internet infrastructure?

Here are some musings I posted as a comment on the P2P Foundation blog, in response to a Post of Simon Edhouse - The Medium is the Mess... - which makes the point that we should not confuse the Web with the Internet by using these terms in a loosely interchangeable way. My thoughts are, that quite separate from both the Net and the Internet as defined by Edhouse, peer-to-peer could give rise to a different type of entity that links us up without being subject to controls except that we may wish to exercise ...

The comment

P2P may in time give rise to something entirely different from both the Internet and the Web as defined in this article. The Web and the entire Internet structure are corporation controlled and we are mere guests, much like the first people sending email and discussing on the usenet, timidly using some of the bandwidth that was there for entirely different reasons.

P2P needs to develop its own infrastructure quite independent of the hardware and even the connectivity that powers today’s internet. I see real peer-to-peer connectivity starting with consumer driven mesh networks based on WIFI or WIMax or a combination, and a gradual separation from today’s internet even for long range connectivity, which could in a first instance be driven by P2P radio bridges. Mobile device mesh networks could be part of this. As almost everyone has a mobile phone today, it would take little to hack the system these things run on to allow them to form networks among themselves, in addition to the standard connectivity into the mobile communication structure through repeater antennas.

At the same time as a real P2P communication infrastructure develops in parallel with the existing infrastructure of the net, we might also think of backing up the data that is on the internet today on a cloud of personal computers, possibly with a novel way of distributed and redundant data storage inspired by an algorithm that mimicks holographic storage of data. There is a huge potential in personal computer hard disks for hosting the parts of all-the-data-there-is and there is more than the necessary computing power on line at any given time for reconstructing that data residing everywhere and nowhere, on the cloud of networked computers.

Of course communications could be re-invented in a secure and spam-free manner. Much work has been done on identification, which may come in handy. Money could flow freely on such a network and it could be quite different from what we consider money today. There is an open money discussion hosted on this ning group which seeks to define the parameters of what we may consider money in the future.

Eventually, the P2PNet could grow so pervasive that it takes over most of the functions of today’s Internet while adding new things we never dreamed were possible.

Perhaps 'Peernet' would be an appropriate term to distinguish the future P2PNet from both the Internet and "the Net" as described by Simon Edhouse in his article.

Would 'Peernet' be desirable?

My first idea was that we might need such a net as a backup of the internet, so in case of a major catastrophe, we would not lose connectivity that today depends mostly on physical connections such as optical cables which are vulnerable and may go down in any major catastrophic event. The mainframe computers on which we depend to act as servers are not immune either. So a distributed architecture, that can re-construct its data and function regardless of the number of peers involved, seems ideal for guarding against catastrophic changes.

But not only that. With the experience we have gained from the Internet, Peernet could be designed to be spam-free and secure, and impervious to any outside interference.

It could also function as the monetary system of the future - see the open money discussions - and might have other advantages that are not yet obvious.

What do you think?

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The talk kind of leaves a mystery.

While he says we need a plan b for the internet as such, because so many things depend on the net these days to even function correctly, he does not say what such a plan b could look like, or whether anyone is working on it already and what they are doing/thinking...

Probably the kind of plan b he has in mind is a separate military type net that could be continuing even in case of a general internet outage, and which could "let in" some other vital functions such as financial, business, telephones, and so on, in case of an attack.

I would say radical decentralization is the answer to the problem. Make each part of the net independent and able to function by itself, (think independent citizen-owned networks) only linking to other parts as necessary. Of course that would make surveillance much more difficult, and that is what the government/military arm that is the originator of the net (think DARPA) doesn't want.

Notwithstanding the "light" note on which the talk ended, it seems that they do have a problem...

Broadband Hamnet - could this be one of the components of plan b for the internet?


This is being developed in Texas, and it's open for anyone to use...

iPhones with system-inherent mesh networking capability bring the peer net another step closer...

How an Under-Appreciated iOS 7 Feature Will Change the World

Read more at 


Another development on distributed storing of data...



wants to promote decentralization of the internet. They have a series of interesting video interviews (fourteen at this time) with people who are building parts of the puzzle that will eventually fit together to make up a newly decentralized net which lets us communicate, share media and store our data in a secure manner, without having to go to the centralized servers that do much of this work today, but at a heavy price for our privacy.


A Box in Every Home

But the bigger aim is to put an Indie Box in every home. Running a home web server may sound ridiculously geeky, but keep in mind that personal computers, home internet connections, and smartphones were once the exclusive province of geeks. All are now mainstream, and Ernst says many people are already interested in the idea.


"Now comes terrific news. “Qualcomm and other wireless companies have been working on a new cellular standard—a set of technical procedures that ensures devices can “talk” to one another—that will keep the lines open if the network fails. The Proximity Services, or so-called LTE Direct, standard will be approved by the end of the year.”  ...

"[O]ur pocket phones should have a backup communication mode that is peer-to-peer, that could pass messages from phone to phone through any afflicted area until they reach a zone with cell service, at which point the messages would spill into the continental network.

"This would be frightfully easy to accomplish, especially for simple text messages. In fact, the technology has been incorporated in Qualcomm’s latest chip sets. Though the major carriers — AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc — have all refused to activate it..."


This LTE Direct Developer Portal gives you tools for developing the next generation of proximity services using LTE Direct. It give you access to the SDK. It provides sample applications, educational material including videos and white papers, and a forum to exchange and discuss ideas.

Use this portal to build the next great LTE Direct application.



LTE Direct is a new and innovative device-to-device technology that enables discovering thousands of devices and their services in the proximity of ~500m, in a privacy sensitive and battery efficient way. This allows the discovery to be “Always ON” and autonomous, without drastically affecting the device battery life unlike other Proximity solutions such as OTT based that use GPS, or BT-LE and WiFi Direct.

LTE in unlicensed spectrum potentials ?


" Early focus to be on unlicensed operation in 5 GHz. However, the core technology should be as frequency agnostic as possible. "

Now it seems WIFI is getting married with the UHF TV frequencies that are no longer in use, and with this, the range of WIFI is extended tremendously, while quality and speed of transmission are kept high by using multi antenna (MIMO) transmission systems. Rice University is doing research on this...


"The holy grail of wireless communications is to go both fast and far," said lead researcher Edward Knightly, professor and chair of Rice's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "UHF can travel far, but it hasn't had the high capacity of Wi-Fi. This [new approach] provides the best of both worlds," he said.

Recent development: 

The next generation mobile phone tech protocols will be upgraded to allow direct communication of cell phones with each other, using the principal radio to connect to other phones just like today it connects to the next tower. This will increase the range of direct communication to 500 meters or more...

Future Smartphones Won’t Need Cell Towers to Connect

Decentralized internet ... it seems it's actually happening.

Here's a short video





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