For the last two years the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute has been working with communities from Detroit to Dharamsala to set up community broadband mesh networks that sidestep local ISPs and even government internet restrictions. Now OTI is ready to take its technology, called Commotion, out of beta. This week it released Commotion 1.0 to the general public and invited communities worldwide to build and manage their own neighborhood networks.
Commotion was originally designed as a means to circumscribe government censorship and surveillance on the internet, but the scope of the project quickly expanded to include extending access to areas where broadband was unavailable or unaffordable. Commotion combines technologies like the Serval Project’s mesh networking and Tor’s identity shielding software to create secure distributed networks made up of smartphones, routers, servers and other nodes.
In Sayada, Tunisia, local volunteers have used Commotion to created a free Wi-Fi…
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