New York City Meshnet

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The New York City Meshnet aims to create a fast, cheap, secure internet for anyone in New York City with a wireless device.

We have two nodes up! We're looking for more nodes, if you'd like to connect, join us in the IRC channel (see below) and ask.

Important Information

Our website

New York City Meshnet Subreddit

Mailing List

Map of Proposed and Active Nodes

(Old Google Maps Version)

IRC Channel is #nycmeshnet on EFNet (web chat)

The Plan

Written on July 27th, revision 1

Phase 1. Gathering Nodes

The first step in making a successful meshlocal is to actually gather people who are interested in making a meshlocal. We are currently in this phase, and are gathering nodes through IRC, Reddit, and our Google Maps page.

Phase 2. Gathering Equipment

Once we get enough nodes that are close enough to connect to each other, we need equipment to connect to them. I would advise looking at Hardware for the type of equipment we need.

Phase 3. Connecting Nodes

Once we have nodes and the equipment, we need to actually connect people. We will probably do some test runs in the park like the Seattle Meshlocal did.

Phase 4. Connecting to other Meshlocals

Assuming we all can connect to each other, it would be a good idea to try and connect to other nearby meshlocals, such as the Philadelphia Meshlocal.


Instructions: How To Join the Meshnet

  • Join us at our meetings to meet the group and get involved. You can also say hello and ask us questions on IRC (efnet.org, #nycmeshnet).
  • Look at our growing Meshnet Proposed and Active Nodes Map and place a new pin on your location if you want to setup a node.
  • Find "Peers," people close enough to you that you could could establish a wired or wireless link.
  • Acquire hardware to establish links to peers in your area.
    • We currently recommend this hardware, but the only requirement is that your hardware be compatible with the hardware your peers are using.
    • We recommend using at least 802.11n 5ghz radios to keep compatibility with other nodes in NYC.
  • Install Hardware and establish links to your peers.
    • The preferred wireless mode is Ad-Hoc with an ssid of "nycmesh.net" on channel ?? (It may be necessary to run OpenWRT on your wireless device to enable this)
  • Setup your cjdns box:
    • Install cjdns, and setup the ETHInterface to autopeer.
    • Add NAT capabilities to allow other devices on your network to access the cjdns network.
    • We have a pre-built image for the Raspberry Pi to make getting started easy.

Details of the Meshnet

Speed

More testing is required for reliable estimates.

The 5 GHz Nanostations on the Hardware page are rated at 100Mbits/second, but note that this always includes significant security and reliability traffic overhead. Also, the 802.11n standard increased the maximum net data rate to 600 Mbit/s in comparison to the 802.11a and 802.11g standard of 54 Mbit/s. [1]


Cost

We estimate that the Meshnet represents savings of over 90% on your current Internet access bill.

We estimate that your hardware costs to join the network will be approximately $200 to install a long-range node and $60 to install a short-range microstation and that this hardware will last for 24 months. If you currently spend $30/month on Internet access for 24 months, the net present value of your access costs is $700.


Security

NYCMeshnet runs on cjdns. “Cjdns guarantees confidentiality, authenticity and integrity of data by using modern cryptography in a non-intrusive way. Information transmitted over a cjdns network can't be altered or read en-route. While you can create multiple identities, it's practically impossible to impersonate other nodes on the network and since a node's IPv6 address is the fingerprint of its key, man-in-the-middle attacks are not possible.”[2]


Schematic Drawings

Schematics of the overall meshnet in your local area as well as the home setup are currently in draft form!


The Technical Stuff

See below for a better sense of how the NYC Meshnet differs from the Internet.

Strategic Thinking

Wishlist

  • Meshnet Services
    • Decentralized/Distributed Basics
      • Search engine
      • Knowledge base (e.g., Wikipedia clone)
      • Local knowledge base (e.g., reading lists on topics of interest)
      • Message boards or microblogging (e.g., twitter)
      • Data storage (e.g., torrents?)
      • Safe boxes (e.g., anonymous dropboxes)
      • Financial transactions (e.g., bitcoin)
    • Local Services
      • Weather (noaa.gov feed)
      • Maps and Directions
        • Public Transit Directions (The Weekender?)
        • Ride the City Bike Directions
          • Public Bike Locations Map
        • NYCLU Maps of Surveillance Cameras
        • Transportation Alternatives NYPD accident and injury data
        • Other cool maps from urban planners, geographers, etc.
      • neighborhood.nyc (once TLD is up)
      • NYC Events??
    • Communication Services
      • Chat (Jabber?)
      • Email??
      • VoIP phone services
      • Tor Gateways, Relays, and Exit Nodes
        • Note, Tor currently has open bugs that need attention before IPv6 is fully functional [3]
  • Other Wishes
    • ...


Attracting Interested Parties

  • Outdoor Events and Fairs
  • Tech Companies
  • Tech Clubs (BitCoin, etc.)
  • Individual Technophiles
  • Building Owners


Community Outreach and Communications

  • Events Ideas and Planning


Covering Public Spaces

  • Outdoor Events and Fairs
    • ...
  • Parks
    • Union Square
    • Central Park


Meeting Spaces

  • Outdoor (Primary)
    • Tompkins Square
    • Union Square
    • Central Park
  • Indoor (Secondary)
    • Irving
    • xCubicle
    • alpha one labs


Mobile Phones

  • How can I get involved and/or access the Meshnet if I don't have a computer?
  • Meshing this Meshnet with Serval?
  • HowTo: Installing cjdns on your non-Mac phone?


Branding

I like NYCMeshnet, but I'm wondering if other names would lead to more rapid uptake by interested parties, e.g.,

  • Names
    • Citynet
    • NYCnet
    • FreeNYC
  • Logos
    • ...


Meetings

  • Where can we post items for a proposed agenda?


Open Research Questions

  • What are the highest priority metrics?
    • ...
  • Are there publicly available modeling software to
    • plan our network?
    • calculate necessary redundancies?
    • estimate cost of bringing Meshnet to your neighborhood, town, city, etc?
  • What network monitoring (latency, users, attacks, cpu, etc.) needs to be performed by long-range backbones and microstations?
    • Can we automate it and give that to folks on the Raspberry Pi flash?


Nonprofit Status

It's possible that there may be legal advantages and protections to establishing a legal nonprofit organization at some point. This is not something our local is currently pursuing.

  • Advantages and Protections
    •  ?


Top Level Domain

It's possible that a new Top Level Domain, .nyc, will soon be selling namespace. Do we want to spend $30-$50/year to own and control any .nyc namespaces?


Functioning as a Provider

It's possible some nodes may want to sell access to the Internet or the Meshnet, sell hardware, maintenance, and or other relevant aspects. This is not something our local is currently pursuing and we leave it to individual nodes to decide whether or not they want to sell any relevant elements of Meshnet access for profit or nonprofit purposes.

Infrastructure Development

NYCMeshnet will first need to be a technological proving/development ground before it can expand to widespread use. There are still a lot of questions about the technology and it's application and limits, so this is a good place to put them and what is being done about it.

Hardware

There are a lot of different options when it comes to hardware for the mesh. And this is largely a good thing. We want lots of people to be able to participate in the network with various hardware. This means education is especially important. We can only recommend hardware within certain limits; if the participants can educate themselves on their different options, they will be able to make the best case by case judgments in selecting hardware.

Some thoughts:

  • 5Ghz is the choice for the initial test network, leveraging a less crowded frequency band and longer theoretical range limits than 2.4Ghz.
  • Exploring different ways of integrating 2.4Ghz hardware into the mesh, either through super/micro adjacent nodes, or parallel 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz nodes, will help to expand the reach of the network to more devices. Eventually promoting wider and easier use. 5Ghz is in no way the ultimate be all and end all of the mesh.
  • The Raspberry Pi has been the initial choice for a node running cjdns attached to a radio and an internal IPv4 network, mainly as an inexpensive UNIX machine which shouldn't have problems routing the load for sometime. It will be important to investigate the maximum stresses the pi can handle in routing, and if there is other hardware better suited to this end.

Here is some information on radios/antena design, with mesh networking in mind:

The Technical Stuff

NYCMeshnet is an alternative network to the Internet by which NYC locals provide network services (e.g., email, search engine, websites, directions, etc.) to each other using new infrastructure and wireless signals.

The Internet The NYCMeshnet
Protocol IPv4/IPv6 IPv6
Access Hierarchic through ISP Decentralized through neighbor's node(s)
Routing IP cjdns Mesh routing
Domain Name Services ICANN .hype / namecoin / cjdns / anything you want to setup
Security None (Cleartext) End-to-end ??-bit Public Key Encryption
Hardware Router + Modem connected to ISP Wired or Wireless connection to your neighbors
Services Offered Everything you know as the Internet Expanding list depending on what people wish to provide and wish to be served (known as Hyperboria)

Contact Information