Crowd-Shared Mesh Network for Universal Internet Access
Universal access to Internet is crucial. Public Access WiFi Service (PAWS) is an initiative that enables free Internet access to all and is based on Lowest Cost Denominator Networking (LCDNet) – a set of network techniques that enable users to share their home broadband network with the public. LCDNet makes use of a portion of the available unused capacity in home broadband networks and allows Less-than-Best Effort (LBE) access to these resources. PAWS has faced ongoing deployment challenges, such as limited coverage, due to home user sharing patterns. The underlying problem with PAWS or any crowd-shared network (such as FON) is that they serve as single point of access to users within the coverage of the wireless router and hence have no provision to extend the coverage or to provide any redundancy during unavailability of the routers. A potential solution to these problems would be to extend the PAWS network as a crowd-shared mesh network where home broadband users share part of their own broadband connection to the public for free while such home routers are also connected to each other as a wireless mesh providing extended coverage as well as offering redundant paths to the Internet backhaul.
With the advent of Software Defined Networking (SDN), there are more opportunities for network operators to deploy and manage such open public wireless networks at large scale. In the CONFINE project, we aim at investigating experimentally the feasibility and any potential benefits of enabling PAWS or any crowd-shared wireless network as a crowd-shared wireless mesh network federated by a third party virtual network operator (VNO) using an evolutionary SDN architecture and quantify the associated benefits that such adoption could bring. Such a network will allow us to utilize the available capacity from multiple ISPs and maintain existing guest user connections even when some of the home network routers are unavailable. In this project, we will implement the control plane functions that are required by the VNO to manage a crowd-shared wireless mesh network, carrying out load balancing and guest user traffic redirection over the wireless mesh when sharers change their sharing policies.
Additional information is available in the project website.