Writes The Guardian on how mesh networks can realise 3G’s vision:
Two companies, US startup MeshNetworks and Moteran Networks of Germany, are each developing their own competing version of mesh networking. Instead of the current hub-and-spoke model of wireless communications, with every device connecting to an overburdened central antenna, any time “mesh-enabled” devices – mobile phones, PDAs, laptops – are in close proximity to each other, they automatically create a wireless mesh network. Every device in the area acts as a repeater or router, relaying traffic for everyone else. Traffic hops from person to person until it reaches the nearest internet access point, reducing the need for central antennas, and improving wireless coverage.
Because mesh networks use Wi-Fi, the equipment and infrastructure needed to create them is cheap and readily available. Instead of building cellular phone towers that often cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, all that is needed to get a network going are wireless access points (around 100 now) placed strategically around town to relay traffic, and the proper software. Existing laptops and PDAs can be mesh-enabled by software.