Ronja: at 10 Mbps, the next stage in wireless mesh networking?

by Andy Oram

Think how WiFi has changed our ways of interacting. Many of us take it for granted that we can run chat sessions and check our email while sitting in a conference or waiting for our train. Hotels and cafes in many areas don't dare to open without wireless Internet.

But WiFi has 1990s bandwidth; you'll be frustrated trying to download your daughter's video. WiMAX can break the bandwidth barrier, but it's a costly, centralized technology that has to be rolled out by large institutions. Fiber is even more of a long-range investment, and requires labor-intensive installation.

The promise of Ronja is mesh technology that can deliver 10 Mbps and can be built by an amateur in his or her own home for $100 per unit. The specs are all open-source. Where costs or regulations delay the stringing of cable or fiber, this technology could quickly bring neighborhoods into the twenty-first century in terms of bandwidth and universal service. Applications such as interactive video teleconferencing and remote application access with large remote data storage become immediate possibilities.


3 Comments

Moshe Yudkowsky
2007-02-25 11:32:50
With all due respect, I'd have more confidence in this project if they were able to build a web page I could read. Black text on a dark red background?


As a last mile solution, this doesn't work where I live. My neighborhood has has trees and homes of more-or-less uniform height. Maybe we could work something out by putting the base stations on chimneys, but an optical solution is iffy at best.


But my main objection is that this isn't a ISP-level solution because it doesn't solve the first-mile problem. That is, even if I install one of these gizmos, I have to pipe the bits upstream, and I think I can promise you that I won't have an unbroken chain of these between here and the big pipes in downtown Chicago. That means I have to rely on underground cables, and underground cable is expensive... unless I can come up with a way to do free-space radio to the Sears Tower, which isn't as unlikely as it sounds.

Andy Oram
2007-02-25 14:25:33
Yes, there are some environments that aren't good for line-of-sight. In general, I was imagining a three-layer architecture of fiber to some central point, a mesh network of light-range devices for the next hop, and then WiFi to reach every user.
alejo duque
2007-03-02 13:46:51
Mr. Moshe, i think you got it all wrong, the fact that you live in a hole doesn't mean that this device, which is actually quite far from being called a "gizmo", is not a very clever technology re-appropiation. One should see that the price of the final product is very low and the generosity of the developers is inmensily high. respect to the ronja krew! :P