Wireless Mesh Network Apps

The Educational and Societal Potential of Mesh Networking

On September 2014, as Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters took over the streets, 6 months old FireChat app gained terrain. Despite the short lifetime of the app, the technology used to support it is not that young; mesh wireless networks have been around for more than 30 years. What are they? Why are they becoming popular now? How do they impact the mobilization of knowledge? Find out in this timeline.

Early Academic Research

MIT worked on a project called Roofnet, aimed to create a self-organizing wireless network.

First the military

In the 80’s, US military funded research on implementing multi-hop mesh networks in the battlefield, but efforts were thwarted by the high costs.

OLPC controversy

Is measuring Math results the best indicator to assess the impact that having a computer may have in Peruvian children living in isolated communities?


The first free off-the-grid instant messaging application for numerous mobile phone platforms was launched in Toronto, Canada.

The Green Machine Promise

Nicholas Negroponte, launched a project to provide affordable laptops to children in developing communities.

Mesh network for the XO laptop

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project deployed its first mesh network for XO beta machines in launch countries.

The Serval Project

The Serval Project was founded in Australia in response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.

Citizen-sourced journalism

The Center for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) implemented a mobile-based community news network in Nigeria.

Open Garden

A peer-to-peer mobile Internet connection company was founded in San Francisco by Micha Benoliel, Stanislav Shalunov and Greg Hazel.


Open Garden introduced FireChat for iPhones in March 2014, followed by a version for Android just a month later.

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