Apr 2, 2020
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Coronavirus Fuels P2P Connectivity: Crypto-Driven Meshnet Gives Rural Towns Internet

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While the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the economy across the U.S., a number of the 1,737 residents from Clatskanie, Oregon can’t obtain an internet service provider (ISP). The situation has motivated the town to adopt a decentralized meshnet ISP called Althea and the network’s users are paid in cryptocurrency for relaying.

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Oregon Residents Connect to Decentralized Internet Service Powered by Crypto

The recent events unfolding worldwide has made people aware that the internet is a resourceful tool when it comes to sharing information during a pandemic. There are lots of areas worldwide with limited internet resources and internet service providers (ISPs) that can take care of people’s connectivity needs. In various rural regions in the U.S., ISPs are hard to come by and the ones that do offer services to remote areas often charge astronomical prices. Right now, as the covid-19 outbreak ravages the American economy, some residents from Clatskanie, Oregon can’t access the internet due to the lack of ISPs. The connectivity issues have caused some Clatskanie residents to start using a decentralized meshnet service. People in the town are leveraging a meshnet solution called Althea which lets routers pay each other for bandwidth.

Essentially, a mesh network (meshnet) is a local network topology that allows people to relay and share bandwidth and route data from/to other participants. If the network grows stronger, it can operate in a non-hierarchical fashion and the more cooperation the better the network will perform. Althea’s meshnet service provides people with the incentive to host decentralized ISPs in any community, rather than relying on the monopolized services provided by cable and fiber-optic providers.

Users leveraging the Althea network can earn money by collecting payments for expanding the network. Althea users can accept two cryptocurrencies at the moment, which includes DAI and ETH. The creators of the Althea network say in the future they will be adding support for other digital assets as well. In fact, digital currencies play an important role within the Althea framework as the white paper states:

Althea allows routers to pay each other for bandwidth using cryptocurrency. An important architectural detail is that nodes only pay neighbors for forwarding packets. On top of this pay-for-forward network, we build a system allowing consumers to pay for internet access. Althea is intended to be used in local mesh networks.

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