AF-Boston’s May Fellowship: A Do-It-Yourself Telephone Company!

May 26, 2010

What you’re seeing to your left is VillageTelco’s Mesh Potato, the prototype for a lightweight, low-cost, and low-power unit that is a building block for rolling your very own decentralized P2P phone network.

We’re thrilled to announce that this month’s Awesome Fellowship from Boston goes to Paul Gardner-Stephen, post-doctoral fellow at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. Paul’s perhaps most known worldwide for his creation of the much-touted innovation of the shoe phone, and for this project, he’s turning his formidable skills to a new project.

Specifically, the plan is to get the mesh potato to work with mobile telephones so that so that mobile telecoms can be deployed rapidly, cheaply and robustly into disasters, developing and remote areas, and plain old remote places where the huge cost of mobile telephone towers makes it too expensive to provide coverage. A neat hack that Paul’s building into the plan is that these P2P phone networks will work with your regular old phone number, without requiring access to the internet (seriously).

The entire thing will be prototyped over Android, and step-by-step instructions will be made available so you can start up a mobile telcom right in the comfort of your own home (some assembly required).

If you’re around Boston, we’ll also be holding a demonstration of the technology in late July, with a special presentation from Paul. So, stay tuned!

photo courtesy Shuttleworth Foundation, CC BY SA NC