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Author Topic: Idea: Method for establishing decentralized internet infrastructure  (Read 454 times)
Elliander
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December 28, 2014, 09:54:59 AM
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I was reading up on projects for a decentralized internet such as Bitcloud and MaidSafe, but these projects still depend on the existence of a physical infrastructure. More specifically, the lines in public spaces connecting the different homes together. In order for there to be a truly decentralized internet without an ISP there would need to be a solution to this.

Here's a possible solution, though it is probably a few years off. The idea is to take advantage of the Solar Roadways project. Or rather an aspect of it. For those who don't know, the project aims to be a decentralized smart grid. Solar panels are placed as modules and there is a canal/storm drain under the side walk that takes the place of telephone lines. A given section of road can easily pay for itself by solar energy production alone, but because the established utilities don't have lines and trees to maintain contracts can be formed to assume responsibility for a given section of the grid. (in fact, existing telephone lines are typically owned by one company who lease access to others which is why you can only purchase services from a company who has leased access to your line, so a competing line would be very price competitive) Even the storm drain would be smart, cleaning and transporting water as it is needed.

Now, the critical detail is that this infrastructure would be suitable for the placement of any type of cabling. It's an inbuilt feature and I fully expect average homes and businesses to begin building up sections of driveways and at least sidewalks for the benefits they provide.

What's needed is a module based system for running new Fiber optic lines in this infrastructure. I am picturing a kind of "box" that would act as a Fiber optic repeater (fiber optic lines plug into it to repeat the signal sending it along) and a coaxial outlet (for bringing it into any house that might be along the way). If each box could be programmed with a "wallet address" it could work like mining hardware in that it keeps track of how much activity is provided to the network by it's use and rewards that contribution accordingly. What's important is that it needs to be such that your neighbors could plug right into it and be able to identify their hardware to their address while allowing these units to be password locked to keep said neighbor from tampering with it.

Now, the only problem with this suggestion is that you will need many already established lines to replace the ISP, but that can be solved rather easily. If the coaxial line had TWO ports per box it's use could begin rather differently. Those with an ISP service could run their coaxial line from their modem to the box and then from the box to their house. If their neighbor did the same that would be two different IP addresses. Now, let's say that each house had a bandwidth cap of 500 GB a month. One house uses more than the other so "buys" coins from the other to represent this difference. Now suppose a third person connects, but this person doesn't have internet service. No problem! This person "buys" bandwidth from the other two. Additionally, it would act as an additional IP obfuscation layer. If a given area has 500 IP addresses in a connected grid before connecting to an outside network these 500 boxes would act as nodes. There would be no way of telling who owned a given IP address or even if the person being tracked has an ISP contract to terminate since there can be more connected homes than people with internet access through an ISP. Even if you could get past the IP scrambling at the global level and round it down to a local level (such as by the kind of attack used against Tor) once you trace the signal to a given house there is no way to know for sure that this house was really the end user. The most obvious initial use though is the ability to sell a portion of your bandwidth to bring your costs down or to purchase more bandwidth than would normally be allowed without dealing with over limit costs followed by a gradual increase in people who want to subscribe to the internet anonymously.

 (EDIT: There is no reason why the output back to a given home has to be coaxial. The boxes just need coaxiel input to make it compatible with existing ISP inputs. It could be Fiber optic output as well leading to Fiber optic modems for much faster connections and the same box module system and cables could easily out of the ground in large apartment buildings thus allowing the owner of large complexes to reap additional rewards. The modules should also be EM shielded to protect against interference and internal redundancy and power surge protection. A stackable form with special outlets connecting two modules directly together could be employed to allow for an automatic bypass in the event of module failure with a notification sent to the owner. Stackable would also make it easier for adjacent land owners to directly connect their units together.)

As such a network expands it would slowly transition from ISP controlled to a fully decentralized meshnet. You would still pay for your internet access and bandwidth, but instead of paying to an ISP you pay to the network itself which encourages individuals to maintain their own connections while further rewarding faster connections. Of course, individuals who provide more than they use will earn money while those who provide as much as they use don't have to pay for internet service at all. This idea wouldn't prevent an ISP from getting on board with their own decentralized investment, but by it's very nature it would solve the same problems.

For me this isn't just theory: This is something I would seriously like to invest in. I live in a prime location for early adoption of the Solar Roadways (close proximity to the Mississippi River and a Train system along with inexpensive property for factory investments) and I expect that within 5 years my investments in Bitcoin will have paid off enough for me to seriously make such investments which is also around how long I expect it will take before the creators are ready to expand out. My plan is to invest in a 900 feet section of road on a steep hill and every driveway on that road and make deals with the city and established utilities to transition the cables into the underground canal. By then I will also have learned enough with my Computer Science second major to do my own engineering work if someone else doesn't apply the idea first (although I would love it if someone would! The equivalent of the mining hardware companies!) and with a test street established I can show the benefits to the city and use that as a model to gradually expand the investment. More importantly, I would create a model with which land owners can not only turn their driveways and parking lots and sidewalks into solar panels to earn an ROI, but establish an additional income stream from a Meshnet coin while also helping to establish the infrastructure for a fiber optic internet access. Large investors could buy from the city a given section of street that either they become responsible for, or that they hire another company to help manage.

There are already companies that have turn key plug and play Fiber optic data systems. Here's one example I found with a quick search. It seems like a company like this could easily be contracted to produce the specialized hardware required provided that a software implementation also existed. It's going to be very important for the average person to be able to set it up, plug it in, and forget about it.


As an additional idea, there are also problems with a decentralized solar power distribution system. Namely laws that vary in regards to if you can sell power or not. When I install a solar road way I would have to connect the established electrical grid through it with meters and from there Net Metering laws vary. (In my state I don't even have the right to sell power to the utility. If my energy production exceeds my use the balance is zeroed out at the end of the year and they get to keep it for free!) Then there is the issue with electrical cars being able to go through inductive charging while driving with no way of tracking this use. The same decentralized internet system could have a secondary function which would help encourage adoption: An energy coin. If my driveway produces energy it can automatically sell this energy to those who draw from it. In this way I could produce energy on my property and spend that energy somewhere else in the world. The same decentralized internet could be dual built for a decentralized energy trading mechanism. Something that even the builders of the Solar Roadway concept never thought of. (they were thinking more along the lines of individuals selling excess to the grid by Net Metering alone) Now, if the decentralized internet hardware was also designed to handle this power trading mechanism (and it seems like it would be the most logical way to handle it) that would create a reason for individuals who are investing in Solar Roadways for energy purposes only to purchase and install this extra hardware even if they don't care about the decentralized internet movement. By encouraging multiple groups of people to adopt the technology for their own varying self interested reasons it helps to push us into that future. We can have decentralized energy and a decentralized internet. It would also provide for an emerging market of people who invest in energy intensive coin mining hardware because it would help drive down the cost of energy and make these systems more affordable.

(EDIT: I envision "energy coins" to be created when energy is produced, transferred like a coin, and then "burned" when the energy is consumed. They are not meant to have a value separate from the value of energy that they represent which allows their price to reflect that. Since the energy is locally stored until it is used there won't be a problem with more coins being created than energy available to distribute and the network could even be setup to determine the availability of energy at the local area to prevent issues with trying to purchase energy from an isolated location. A small transaction fee could also support "miners" in theory, but each module should be capable of verifying other module transactions so in all likelihood these fees would ordinarily cancel each other out so I really don't see the point.)

Any thoughts? What does everyone think of this approach? I feel that if we are ever going to have a fully decentralized global internet without an ISP there needs to be a simple system put in place to encourage individuals to invest in their own part of the grid - even if it's just their driveway. Without some approach to the cabling we will always have to pay an ISP for the first leg of our internet access and our speeds will always be restricted. What better way than to make use of another project that will get all the hard work out of the way?

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December 30, 2014, 04:19:41 AM
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An alternative solution to the cabling: The solar roadways are set in as 12 inch wide hex shaped panels with a microprocessor that communicates with each other segment of road. It may be possible to add the fiber optic lines to the panels themselves to allow for mufti-throughput connections. It would mean that the internet load could be distributed evenly across the road along multiple lines at ones so that if any segment was damaged no data would be lost. The downside is that this would cost most than cables in the side of the road, but it would guarantee continuous up-time and prevent bandwidth bottlenecks. It would also be easier to verify ownership of a given connection.

This approach would still require a module that can act as a coaxial input from an ISP modem as needed, but wouldn't be a mandatory part of the grid setup which can cut down on cost. Since the coaxial lines will run over the sidewalk as well it should be relatively simply to run them to a Fiber optic modem in a house, so at the software level we need a way to turn this into a Meshnet and communicate with the smart grid.

If anyone has any alternative ideas or approached I am interested in hearing it. In the mean time I definitely plan to invest in this model in the near future. It will pay for itself with the energy cost savings on my Bitcoin mining. I know this is a ways off, but bringing it up now while so many projects are focused on a decentralized internet seems like a good idea.

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