Mesh networks have been around for quite a while now, but it is only been more recently that affordable, reliable "carrier class" radios have become available. When combined with some "purpose built" firmware and a little network knowledge these part 15 devices can be operated on the shared ham portion of the WiFi spectrum to create powerful self-configuring, self-healing mesh networks. This "ethernet in the sky" can be used to link repeaters, carry VOIP phone traffic, email, SMS messages, and transfer data files to mention a few applications.
Why not just use the Internet? For several reasons. In the case of natural, man-made, or political disasters the Internet has and will go down again. It may be at your ISP level, a boarder router without power, or some entity intentionally pulling the switch. The Internet is also not free. Particularly if it's needed out in the field in a remote location. It may not even be available at all with our current cellular system coverage of "highways only" in many rural areas. Lastly, UDP packets, the type that typically carry streaming data like audio and video information in real time, are treated as second class citizens on the Internet. As the amount of such traffic has steadily increase through services such as YouTube and especially NetFlix, UDP packet loss has skyrocketed at certain times of the day. When routers get too busy they are programmed dump UDP packets to allow TCP/IP quality of service. Just listen to DMR North America and WorldWide talk groups on weekends. UDP packets are sent only once. If they get there, they get there, otherwise too bad. If you run your own network you have control of it.
Several Amateur Radios groups around CANADA have already established impressive wireless networks. A few that come to mind are the Toronto area. based HamNet or AREDN, the VE3WZW repeater organization in east Toronto areas.
It is my goal to establish such a network in the Greater Toronto metro. There have been a few signs of mesh activity here, but no organized effort thus far. Hopefully this group will allow for the free information flow needed to get it built over time.
I encourage everyone to contribute to the group where they can. We need RF and Microwave expertise, network skills, application deployment, and environmental/installation advise and have many other areas to explore.
I only ask that you keep the discussion civil at all times. I know from being involved in other Yahoo Groups that people are opinionated and passionate about ceratin topics. Let's keep such areas as Religion and Politics to other groups and stay on the tasks at hand. Treat others with respect and you will be respected.