An idea for "two-way" communication (A little long but hear me out) :)

This is similar to the USB dead drops idea - see - but with wireless USB sticks.

Note: This doesn’t work in all scenarios where governments keep a tight clamp on outgoing communications.

Suppose you already have Outernet, you’ve just downloaded the day’s new data and say you want to reply to something someone has posted.

What if replying worked like snail mail but faster?

What if everyone using Outernet had an open wireless USB stick (weatherproof) at the edge of the road in front of their house? Ideally secured physically inside a mailbox. Wireless USB stick will run around $30-$60.

And that open wireless USB stick could connect and transfer data automatically to a device on a vehicle with Internet access that drives past your house daily.

And once this vehicle is loaded with the day’s outgoing replies, based on the content of those replies, it performs a data dump of all the new content to the correct places or folders in the Outernet library.

For instance, Outernet could have a message board and replies and new threads could be automatically sorted and posted in the appropriate forums and threads using identifiers in the content.

It would work sort of like the postal service…perhaps these devices could be placed on postal service trucks and personnel, as they typically make daily rounds to all areas with postal service?

The one big concern I have is could a moving vehicle pick up all the necessary data from a wireless USB stick as it moves by? But I suppose there could be a size limit on the data to control for this?

Also this would not necessarily be for secure, private communication but only public, just to make it easier, at first.

But I suppose there are ways it could eventually be made private.

Again, these devices could be put on postal vehicles, postal personnel, garbage trucks, public utility trucks, google maps cars, taxis, buses, trains…any vehicle or person that makes regular rounds of a wide area. Most ideally, the postal service.

The key element is that the postal service already makes these rounds almost daily. So all you’d have to do is piggy-back on their existing infrastructure. It would also give new life and use to the postal service in Western countries as they have been hit hard by digital communications.

And because it would benefit them, they would probably be very open to the idea.

In India I believe A bus had a wifi router attached to it and as it stopped at each town it would send and receive the messages it had picked up on its journey.

Not sure how the project ended up.

Seasalt .


There you go. And there are many kinds of wifi extenders available to increase the range of the vehicle as it drives by.

And that’s not including just using a direct connection or a data drop off points.

Additionally, since the postal service already makes the rounds to homes and mail dropoff points daily, all that would need to be paid for is the devices that remotely collect the content.

Interesting idea, the range of Wifi would be the challenge.

A project I’m following is The Things Network this is a IOT network with a 30-50 mile range.

If The Things Network is successful and it covers a large part of the globe a ‘Lopy’ enabled version of lantern could be made for an extra £30 or so.

So if the hospital/ school/ whatever in my nearest town 20 miles away has a Things Network Gateway I could use my ‘LopyLantern’ to request content from it, the request goes over the internet to Outernet who then schedule the content to lanterns/ lighthouses?

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I am rally impressed by the Things Network project. I have had a gut-full of Telco’s failing to provide low cost reliable internet. If they can not or will not do it, then its clearly time for the people to just take over and do it themselves.



If the hospital has a Lopy network wouldn’t it have free internet anyway, defeating the whole purpose of needing Outernet?

If we were to get door-to-door postal service onboard, the range of wifi would only be a problem for people and areas without home delivery mail service. For people with home mail delivery, you could attach the wireless USB right inside the mailbox and range would be a non-issue. But a 30-50 mile data collection range wouldn’t hurt.

Also, (i am having trouble linking to the page with the tablet I’m on but) Toshiba makes a wireless proximity data transfer device that automatically collects data from any other nearby wireless device…I would assume that includes wireless usb’s. I’m not sure of the price yet, though.

Sure the hospital already has internet, but not all the residents within 50 miles of it do. The hospital might install a Things Network Gateway for all sorts of reasons; to track temperature of fridges in remote clinics with poor power for example. If there is a gateway there then it could be used for all sorts of things. So in this use case the Things Network effectively shares a very low bandwidth version of the hospital’s internet with everyone within 50 miles.

Note that LoRa is not ‘internet’ it’s a Low power Internet of Things network.

I just did some back of the envelope calculations, say there’s 20,000 hospitals in Africa They were each given a 250 euro gateway and this theory worked, then most of the population of Africa could get this access for five million £. Which is a drop in the ocean in the scheme of things.

As an aside there are some impressive community wifi projects delivering true internet, most notably Guifi in Spain with > 30k nodes. So it is technically possible, just difficult.

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Can I get a Lopy device now? I am not in a big city, though. I’m about 25 miles from NYC. Will I be able to connect to the network?

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Maybe. Check the gateways and chat to the peeps here:

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It looks like the usps already has an eye on the IoT.

“Neighborhood services centered on applications that use IoT technologies to leverage the presence of postal vehicles and carriers in the same areas every day. “Connected” vehicles and carriers with handheld devices can become platforms able to support the collection of data and the provision of both postal and government services to local communities.”

Outernet could leverage this in its favor and use postal services to develop user end return communication back to the Outernet library.

This could be done through the existing Internet infrastructure so there would be no need to develop powerful transmitters for users. Therefore, no pesky over-the-air data transmission regulations to tangle with.

And no need to worry about the slowness of mesh networks or need to have neighbors in close enough proximity to get a connection.

The postal service picks up a user’s data directly on their daily rounds, then sends it to the Outernet library over the existing Internet.

The end user doesn’t need an Internet connection themselves to view and send files. Just an Outernet connection and a wireless USB at their mailbox.