“The Internet is like God. But without the flowing robes and giant beard.”
“Halt and Catch Fire,” season 3, episode 10. ©2017, AMC
In 2016, a small band of visionaries were challenged by a mentor to turn their successful small business into a global movement. Business plans were crafted, go-to-market strategies devised, and funding pursued. One night over takeout Chinese and cold Modelos, we coined a name.
OmniMesh. Sure, it rolls off the tongue and looks terrific in a search bar, but it’s even more important to understand OmniMesh’s deeper meaning. Words matter, and this name reflects our company’s core values:
The global mesh is unstoppable. It will be decentralized so it can connect any device, be everywhere, and convey any data that future technologies might require.
That might be a surprising assertion, unless you’ve been looking at the right wireless technologies and trends. Here is why our Mesh will be everywhere, and capable of doing anything:
Time and again, hierarchies tend to decline in favor of decentralized networks. Centralized networks are profitable and comfortable arrangements for big companies and their regulators, but time and again humans have leveraged new technologies to build decentralized networks. Witness, most recently, the exponential-and-then-some growth of cryptocurrencies—and the traditional financial market makers’ luddite reactions to same.
The sharing economy is reshaping how we leverage underutilized resources. The Internet connection in your home sits idle for more hours in a day than it serves your data, and the service rarely improves. Yet you pay a flat (or rising) monthly fee. The automotive industry saw the same problem and is making a headlong flight into sharing and autonomy to solve the problem. The same thing will happen with internet service.
The price will approach zero. Uber makes cars into commodities. Instead of $34,000 for a new car, you can pay $6 or $7 whenever you need to hop across town. Instead of $189,000 for a house, you can get fractional use of someone’s home for less than a couple c-notes.
This same wave of commoditization is coming for the incumbent ISPs. In middle class societies like the United States, today’s price structure creates have-lesses and have-nots – one group, for whom expensive Internet limits purchasing power, another for whom expense means no broadband at all. Some poorer societies miss out on the power of the internet entirely, lacking even basic connectivity to do their banking and communications because the price is so high.
How are the incumbents answering the bell? With 5G—a technology whose deployment is so expensive, the industry hasn’t even been able to agree on standards yet. This market is ripe for disruption.
The demand signals are clear. The data tsunami is coming. The Internet of Things is more than just a toy. In just five years, every aspect of an integrated, middle class life—commerce, security, transportation, food security, childrearing, and more—will be reliant on high quality, uninterrupted, secure data. A seven-fold (or more) increase in network throughput will be required to meet these projected needs, with much greater reliability, convenience, and security than are available today.
The remoter or poorer the society, the truer this is. In Africa, consumers can now use the internet to buy microinsurance for crops, or pay-as-you-go gas canisters so they can cook over clean gas instead of wood or dung. But there’s not enough connectivity to go around—YET—to meet this demand.
There’s no way big, mainstream technology companies will meet the demand. The Verizons and Charters of the world are too deep in debt, with too much legacy infrastructure and regulation to keep up with their own network maintenance, much less a comprehensive strategic overhaul. The Googles, Amazons, and Facebooks don’t really benefit from becoming network companies; they’re better off focusing on their best strengths, which are user engagement and data analysis. Their middle-class markets have mostly matured, and none of them have strong incentive to play hard in poorer parts of the nation or the world.
Mesh is the answer. Wireless mesh works. It relies on proven technology. It is deployed in nearly 200 cities around the world for free, municipal internet. And because the network grows more robust as more nodes join, the network is always right-sized for demand.
Global monetized mesh is close to reality. The pieces are already in play. The kinks have been worked out and the costs of routing and storage technologies are plummeting. Smart contracts to prevent abuse used to be impossible, but today blockchain technology makes this a simple matter. Spectrum crowding and hacking threaten connectivity around the world, but military grade cognitive radios are being commercialized to build in resilience and cybersecurity at the physical layer of the mesh.
Mesh everywhere, that can do everything, is what we do. Words matter, and “omnipotent” might be a stretch. But “omni-useful” works. A consumer-owned network of mesh appliances, with an edge services network (storage and billing for use pushed to the edge), can be used for just about any use case. Want to fly and monitor a drone at a fair price for connectivity? Check. Want to connect autonomous vehicles driving through your neighborhood? Check. Want to download the latest great movie in 4K, Super10K, or SuperTouch VR? Check. Want to stuff multiple spectrums into the same radio, so you can operate all the time in any weather regardless of network congestion? Check. Want to bring the price of connectivity to zero, and subsidize it via the commerce that is now free to flow over the network at unlimited volume? Check. OmniMesh will do all that, and we’re just getting started.