Whether you’re in a remote village in India with limited to no internet connectivity or a highrise in New York City, RightMesh has a solution to connect the world with a decentralized network.
Sounds like a lofty goal--well--because it is. They are up against some stiff competition.
And RightMesh, a Canada-based startup, is taking a slightly different approach to connecting the world. Instead of starting with the sky like the tech titans, they’re starting from the ground up using smartphones and blockchain.
And with the recent repeal of Net Neutrality, using a decentralized blockchain is starting to look more appealing.
I sat down with Dr. Jason Ernst, the Chief Network Scientist and Saju Abraham, Chief Product Officer at RightMesh to learn more about the current internet connectivity issue and how they are going to tackle this problem.
The digital divide is actually increasing
“We assume that the digital divide is shrinking because of our increased technology, it’s not,” says Abraham.
It may be hard to imagine, but there are many instances in the world where people aren’t able to have a simple Skype call, or even download an app from the App Store.
Some examples are fairly obvious, like rural India, and many other developing countries. However, others may take us by surprise, such as the lack of connectivity in places like Labrador, Canada.
So what do you do with people who aren’t connected?
A network that is owned by the people and run by the people
Get creative with smartphones.
The smartphone is now strong enough to sustain a network all on its own. However, telcos (telephone companies) and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) haven’t thought about it, because they would lose control.
“At RightMesh,” Abraham went on, “we are creating a decentralized network, a community managed network that is owned by the people and is run by the people.”
This is important and is the main mission of RightMesh to begin connecting people starting in developing countries, and working their way to completely decentralize the infrastructure itself. “It’s a different way of thinking of things--this is an actual sharing economy. It’s an equal distribution of wealth. This is all aligned with what the blockchain stands for,” explained Abraham.
You can trust the blockchain
Instead of using a Public IP, which slows down the process, they use what is called a mesh ID. This creates trust using the blockchain. You are only verifiable to people you choose to share your identity with.
Mesh networks and hotspots aren’t anything new. Hotels are a great example of a mesh network in action. Mesh networks allow them to get Wifi to large areas at a much lower cost.
So what is the new mesh network, exactly?
“This is a mesh network comprised of anonymous people who don’t know each other and who are relying on each other to share information back and forth, and its a group of people who need to work together--which the blockchain provides,” explained Ernst.
There is incentive to be part of RightMesh’s network
In an age where companies exploit our data to get rich, there needs to be a reward set up for being a node. The identity for each node in the mesh is stored in the blockchain.
“In order to run a mesh network with a group of people there has to be some reward behind it. You are actually giving away your cell phone, your battery power, to be part of the network. Most people won’t actually do that, unless they are incentivized,” said Abraham.
The incentive is getting paid. That’s right. Users on the RightMesh network will be paid in cryptocurrency.
“In order to run a mesh network to 100 people, there has to be a reward to it. The tokens are the fuel we provide the network. Imagine 100 people that are connected in the mesh. One person is trying to buy certain data, another person is selling certain data, mesh tokens are going to flow from the buyer to the seller. All the nodes in between that path are going to be incentivized to help facilitate that transfer by remaining connected to the mesh network,” Ernst explained to me.
The tokens used will be ERC20, based off the Ethereum blockchain.
You’re still buying tokens, but the mesh network creates an interesting distribution of cryptocurrency.
Here’s how it will work in real life
- You buy your tokens (based on how much you are willing to pay and how much data you’re willing to pay for.)
- You can stop at any time.
- You can collect if you’re enabled to transfer.
People in developing nations can download apps without internet connectivity, or data usage, and then receive shared files for important projects, such as university exams, from someone who has internet connectivity and is in the mesh network.
By joining the mesh network, people in these countries are able to get access to information and online resources that aren’t currently possible due to monetary constraints. This cuts back on internet bandwidth significantly.
Instead of 1,000 students all downloading the same file, ten students could download it and disperse it offline to the other 990. It significantly reduces the amount of internet data needed to make connectivity and sharing possible.
How the network is rewarded
The mesh users are called “nodes.” Each user, or node, helps transfer information back and forth on the mesh network. These users are integral to how the mesh network works.
The main users on the mesh network are called relay nodes. They will receive tokens for essentially creating the mesh network.
Gateway nodes are more important because they provide the gateway to the Internet. These are the people with means to have their own wifi, which they make open to the mesh network.
The gateway nodes are the ones sharing their office wifi, coffee shop wifi, or home wifi--these individuals are vital to creating the mesh network. They will be incentivized the most, because their wifi is needed to get the whole network connected.
The key to adoption - Get developers involved early
Of course there is still a challenge to accomplishing this big goal. The first step might be to connect a small village in India, but the goal is to implement a brand new way of thinking about internet access that can be used globally.
Early adopters are going to be key in their strategic role to start with developing nations.
RightMesh’s solution to this challenge?
They are currently building an API to allow developers on the Android platform an easy way to integrate and incorporate it into their apps.
Right now, they are working hard at creating the mesh network and getting app developers on board.
They’ve made the greatest strides in being the only mesh network startup to focus on phone networking that involves an incentivization aspect.
I think it has a lot of potential to disrupt how we connect to the internet in the future.