Is there a terrestrial version of this running?

I think Outernet is a cool idea!

Just wanted to know if there is a terrestrial version of this running anywhere, maybe in a small area. Ie is there someone running UDP multicast to run a broadcasting video?


That’s a great idea! Perhaps set up a wifi transmitter on the top of a mountain and test a couple setups, as well as find out what kinds of smartphones can do it, and which cannot.

We could modify a piratebox to do this…

And it would give us a good idea what kind of real world performance we could get out of it with the power available in near earth orbit.

Yes, this is an excellent idea. @MoonShadow If you have a mountain nearby, I’ll gladly send you some Ubiquity gear.

No mountains, but there are plenty of tall buildings and water towers. I’d love to have some Ubiquity gear to play with, but I’d say that such a setup should be done by someone with more time to commit.

Actually, I think that I’m going to change my position on this. I thought that the ham band and the wifi band didn’t actually overlap, and that ham channels were only the -1 and 0 channels; but it turns out I was wrong. I’ve since learned that the ham band overlaps into the standard wifi band quite a bit, so at least channel #1 is fully within the ham band. So I do have the privilages under Part 95 rules to try this. Well, probably anyway. So if the offer is still open, I’ll take your Ubiquity and find a high mount for it near me. Is there a flash image to use wifi multicasting already, or is that yet to be developed? PM me if you want my ham license callsign, to check me out.

I would like to try this too. How can I buy some gear. I checked out the Ubiquity site, but its not clear what gear I should buy and the price. Could it work from a tall building? We could start with the Malaysiakini building. Thanks. Prem

If it didn’t work from a tall building, it would never work from low earth orbit. Of course, that’s the point of a test. If nothing else, this would make for an interesting variation on the piratebox concept.

Remember how on 9/11 your cell phone didn’t work, but a $65 pair of walkie-talkies did? How come Radio Shack walkie-talkies can do P2P but iPhones can’t?

I congratulate the outernet folks on their desire to serve humanity, but I humbly suggest that you’ve decided to build the wrong thing.

Humanity does not need more expensive, brittle, vulnerable, centralized fixed infrastructure for top-down broadcast of “content” from a centralized source. We have plenty of that already in the corporate client-server world that the Internet has become.

It sounds like you want to guarantee that humanity will always have access to information that can’t be censored and can’t be physically disabled by disaster or attack. But your idea is top-down and unidirectional and doesn’t support fluid communications. Consider this:

Humanity needs radically distributed P2P mesh networking. Billions of people are now walking around with powerful mobile devices that are worthless without centralized service provisioning. That’s dumb.

I suggest that you spend your money and time developing a new breed of mobile device designed to discover other such devices and create an ad hoc mesh for the purpose of creating an alternative (and fully encrypted from the ground up) people’s data network on a radically decentralized bucket brigade model. The devices would need more radio energy than phones now have, but not as much as a mobile ham radio.

In a way, I’m suggesting a mobile version NOT of Pirate Box, but of Freedom Box – In my view, the world needs this far more than it needs the extraterrestrial project that outernet is proposing. (But if outernet’s micro satellite concept could be used to support and strengthen a radically distributed terrestrial mesh, I’d be happy to hear about that.)

‘We’ are limited to standard (legal) EIRP for 2.4Ghz on whatever your country allows - here in UK I think we’re allowed 200mw (0.2watts) which won’t get you very far for satellite purposes, the amateur bands open up a bit more possibility with power, however satellites would have to be larger and more powerful to make use of this band in a practical way (highly directional antennas pointing from the earth to the satellites).

Some Hams have been playing with a similiar idea for terrestrial purposes - with their licences - there are allowances for using higher power.

This is an interesting link:-

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While freedombox is a fine project also, outernet aims to accomplish something different. Wide bandwidth mesh networks (the only kind that exist outside of digital ham radio) suffer from the same constraints of physics that outernet is running into; namely that within any practical power level, bandwidth and range are mutually exclusive goals. Thus any mesh network based upon wideband tech, as freedombox is, require a minimum node density for basic function. Datacasting (what outernet proposes to do) does not require such a minimum network node density, and that’s the point. It’s intended to serve areas of the planet wherein such a minimum node density isn’t a practical goal. If you’d like to see the beginnings of a digital mesh network that I’m formulating; take a look at

Of course you’re right about node density, but the radically decentralized buildout has to start somewhere. Obviously many urban areas of the world could (right now) use a combination of freedombox-type wall-warts and mobile nodes to achieve sufficient density to provide something valuable to the community – owned by the community, an emergent property of the community.

And again, if your datacasting were being conceived to fit a larger ecosystem of radically decentralized mesh thinking, I’d welcome that. But if you’re conceiving outernet with no thought to the need for a general transition to P2P and progressive terrestrial decentralization, then (for me) it’s something that misses the chance to be a component of a much larger future-vision.

Not to mention it will be very expensive, requiring concentrations of capital from somewhere, will be dependent upon many centralized authorities, and comes with vast political issues. Who owns and controls the satellites? The idea that some democratic process would choose the RSS feeds to be datacast is naïve unless this is all controlled by some benevolent dictator for life. You’re proposing a unidirectional service that could indeed improve awareness for many people, but awareness of what? The controlling central authorities will broadcast what they want to see more widely known, which will quickly devolve into propaganda, giving us (conceivably) the data equivalent of Radio Free America.

You might remember that former U.S. Secretary of State General Alexander Haig was part of a commercial venture to do roughly the same thing with zeppelins. Of course, in the case of him and his partners, it was about world domination.

So I suppose I’m trying to encourage you to use your obvious technical expertise and motivation to create something that has freedom baked into it at the lowest conceptual level. Where population density isn’t sufficient, longer-range technologies (and politically gnarly inter-networking agreements) will come into play; but the centralized stuff would always serve the decentralized stuff.

Just as obviously, this is all very hard in itself, otherwise FreedomBox would be further along than it is.

I wondered if any hams were creating data meshes; thanks for the link.

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In Germany there is some experience with a 2 way mesh wifi network. It’s called FreiFunk, for more details. It’s a decentralized independent network system with email, chat and content options. How more participants are using the system, how better is might work.

IIUC a major problem seems to be the maximum range of the wifi signals so you need many participants to make the system useful. Anyway, on youtube you can find video’s.

There is a terrestrial version in-progress over shortwave, AM, & FM
Please see: The Outernet Broadcast-Audio Project

To me, this feels like a much more reasonable cost-benefit than the satellite-based proposal.

@spacewalk I’d suggest this absolutely could support that, if the satellites are going up with initial bidirectional communication support, they could be the backbone of the meshnet in terms of providing a way of hopping gaps in the mesh. There are already quite significant meshnet projects underway (Guifi). I think this is still a separate project worth pursuing.

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For those interested: already broadcasts news and information using digital text and images over Shortwave radio every weekend.

To listen-to and decode the data you just need a Shortwave radio and a computer/laptop
For detailed HOWTO instructions see:

UTC Broadcast times and Frequencies

  • Sat 0930-1000 5745 kHz
  • Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
  • Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
  • Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
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Sorry for the delay; I’ve been on the road a lot lately. PMing now.

Hey Prem :wink: A tall building would be good, but I think you really need a mountain in order to get the distance. I think that’s how this Italian group closed a 304km link:

Let me get back to you regarding the best kind of gear to experiment with.

@obap Are you leading this version? I’d like to talk in more detail about it. Thanks.