Three years ago, the people living in the Ochiichagwe’Babigo’Ining Ojibway Nation in Ontario would crowd in each other’s homes and outside the band office to access what little internet the community had. There was dial-up, there was expensive cellular data, and there was some service from an internet provider in a neighboring town; when the network went down, it would sometimes take weeks for a technician to come and fix the issue.
CERN has recently published a paper which outlines the establishment of the European Open Science Cloud that will enable digital science by introducing IT as a Service to the public research sector in Europe.
Old television frequencies are sold off by governments due to the change over from analogue to digital broadcasting, often to whoever is prepared to pay the most for them. They should instead be used to create a new range of free Wi-Fi, say scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. Transmitting WiFi over old TV frequencies would cover a far wider area than traditional WiFi because they use much lower frequencies. Current WiFi is transmitted over local area networks (WLAN) at about 2GHz and therefore has a limited range. Read full article.
The internet needs to be re-built from the bottom up. Network locally first and only then connect to the world “out there”. A local wireless network might be coming to your neighbourhood soon.
Here’s an excellent summary, written by our good friend Helene Finidori from the Commons Abundance Network, on FLOK Society’s historical significance for the Commons and P2P movements. The article was originally published in STIR magazine and Helene has kindly given us permission to republish it here.
This column was published in STIR’s spring issue and is available to buy here
With the Free Libre Open Knowledge (FLOK) Society project, peer-to-peer commons-based economics have a good chance of being institutionalised in Ecuador, or in other words, of entering at a nation-state level through the front door. This would be a world first.
Ecuador may not be particularly advanced as far as urban P2P dynamics are concerned, but its indigenous and rural communities have a long history of sharing knowledge. And since the election of a progressive government in 2007, the country is politically ahead in its determination to continue developing an economy based on the creativity of its citizens and on the sustainable leverage of its internal resources.
The focus here is to transition away from cognitive capitalism where value is commonly extracted via technology transfers through intellectual property rights mostly held by large foreign companies, generating dependencies on the global north and increasing the internal social divide. The goal is to shift towards a ‘social knowledge economy’ where knowledge is freely accessible, produced and shared through co-operative and open processes, and where the resulting knowledge commons can be built upon to accelerate innovation and the distribution of wealth.
Policy Paper on Connectivity
1. Executive Summary
3 Technical Background
3.1 Peering and Transit – How thousands of Networks become the Global Internet
4. Special Issues in Connectivity
4.1 Access for Scientists
4.2 Access for Rural Areas
4.3 Access for Citizens via a Civil Society Stakeholder Body
5.The Ecuadorian Political, Economic, and Infrastructural Framework
5.1 Existing Infrastructure and Policy Goals for Unbundling, Structural Separation and Sale of IRUs
5.2 Celec EP (Corporación Eléctrica del Ecuador – Celec EP)
5,5 CEDIA – The Ecuadoran University Network necessary for global connectivity to Collaborative Science
5.6 Formulation of a Vision for “Higher Education”
6. Alternative Models
6.1 Case Study 1: Brazil, Netherlands
6.2 Case Study 2: guifi.net
7. Policies to Assist the National Broadband Plan and Strategies for Expanding Internet Use
7. 1 Policy Goals of the Broadband Plan and the Three Basic Strategies
8. Ecuadoran Policy Recommendations
8.1 A single overriding basic principle
8.2 Policy for Bringing guifinet to Ecuador
10. Why I Withdraw this Paper [Extract Only]
Full Paper with All Notes and Active Links DOC (24 Pages): Cook on Connectivity
Full Text NOT Footnotes NOT Links Below the Fold
China is having a light-bulb moment. Scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics have discovered that a microchip embedded one-watt LED bulb is capable of emitting Wi-Fi, with enough signal strength to provide internet for four computers.
The discovery, aptly named “Li-Fi,” relies on the use of special LED light bulb that operate with light as the carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies.
Data rates as fast as 150 megabits per second were achieved with the new Li-Fi connection, making it faster, cheaper and more energy efficient than traditional Wi-Fi signals.
Li-Fi apparently only uses five percent of the energy required to power Wi-Fi-emitting devices, which rely on energy cooling systems to supply Internet to cell towers and Wi-Fi stations.
Though the discovery has huge potential in the way we use Internet connection, Li-Fi is still in a crude testing stage, since it doesn’t work if the light bulb is turned off or if light bulbs are blocked. That doesn’t seem like such a huge burden, though: it just means you’ll have to leave your lights on if you want to surf the Web. No more online shopping binges in the dark!
Li-Fi demonstrations will take place on November 5 in Shanghai at the International Industry Fair, where 10 kits will be tested out. A bright future seems to be in store for Li-Fi usage, which could range from using car headlights or focused light to transmit data, among many other potential applications.
August 27, 2013
Citing freedom and security concerns, the makers of Replicant are calling for donations, we learn from “Fundraising a Fully Free Fork of Android” at Boing Boing. The project hopes to give us all the choice to run our Android-based mobile devices entirely upon free software.
But wait, you ask, isn’t Android is already open source? Well, most of it, but a few “key non-free parts” keep our Android devices tethered to proprietary programs. Such parts, they say, include the layer that communicates with hardware; yes, that would be pretty important.
Also of concern to Replicant developers are the pre-loaded applications that some of us call “bloatware,” but upon which many users have come to rely. The team plans to develop free software that provides the same functionality. (I hope they also include the option to delete applications without them returning uninvited. That would be a nice change.) Furthermore, they have set up rival to the Google Play store, their app repository called F-Droid. That repository, the article notes, works with all Android-based systems.
The write-up summarizes:
“Mobile operating systems distributed by Apple, Microsoft, and Google all require you to use proprietary software. Even one such program in a phone’s application space is enough to threaten our freedom and security — it only takes one open backdoor to gain access. We are proud to support the Replicant project to help users escape the proprietary restrictions imposed by the current major smartphone vendors. There will still be problems remaining to solve, like the proprietary radio firmware and the common practice of locking down phones, but Replicant is a major part of the solution.”
Replicant is underpinned by copyrighted software that has been released under an assortment of free licenses, which their site links to here. This is an interesting initiative, and we have a couple of questions should it be successful: Will Google’s mobile search revenues come under increased pressure? What happens if Samsung or the Chinese mobile manufacturers jump on this variant of Android? We shall see.
Cynthia Murrell, August 27, 2013
From accommodation to cars, the internet is turning us from consumers into providers and challenging established business models. We talk to Martin Varsavsky, founder of Fon – the largest Wi-Fi company in the world – and profile two more pioneers, from TaskRabbit.com and BlaBlaCar.com
In 2006, serial entrepreneur and investor Martín Varsavsky – inspired by a conviction that he could cloak the world in free Wi-Fi by encouraging people to share their home connections – founded Fon in Madrid. The company is now the largest Wi-Fi network in the world, with almost 12m hot spots in more than 100 countries.
“My general thinking at the time was that we live in a world in which benefits are only accrued through economic growth and the endless consumption of resources, and that there have to be other ways that are of more benefit to people,” he says. “Why should everyone have their own car when most of the time they are not using them? Think of a marina full of boats. How frequently do those boats go out?”
Today, it has been argued that the sharing economy – which is perhaps best defined as a way of sweating underutilised assets, by building communities around them and turning consumers into providers – has the potential to reboot businesses across most economic categories. Indeed, Forbes magazine recently estimated that total revenues for the sector could top $3.5bn this year, with growth exceeding 25%. However, when setting up Fon, Varsavsky became convinced that people needed a nudge or financial incentive before they’d happily share their assets.
Overheard in the World Cafe:
Speaker A: My friend is creating a wide-area radio network for Afghanistan.
Speaker B: Afghanistan has no infrastructure — including radio stations. Although radio is popular, it is mostly shortwave, with a few local FM stations for the local Iman. And electricity for radio stations is spotty at best including in Kabul.
Speaker A: Well, I can build really cheap, “ultra” cheap, radio receivers.
Speaker B: As long as you are doing that, why not give them OpenBTS cell phones running on ambient energy, and include a radio app? Then get someone else — Google, Virgin Mobile, the Chinese or India — to focus on all-purpose cellular towers and tethered ballons?