Ammbr Update

Dr. Arjuna Sathiaseelan, CEO Ammbr Research Labs

Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech” – Plutarch

It has been a while since we last provided an update on what we are cooking up at Ammbr. Our long silence was intentional.

For the last 6 months we have been extremely productive, and we have made great strides in fascinating research and development. This includes building three versions of our Ammbr mesh router:

  • the Ammbr Hex outdoor router,
  • the Ammbr mobile mesh router, and
  • the Ammbr indoor router (first platter)

Kudos to our team for pushing these out in record time – this is nothing short of a miracle.

The team have also been carrying out specific trials to test aspects of our routers, and these early tests have been extremely positive and encouraging.

Our business development team have, at the same time, established significant collaborative and business partnerships. This includes signing an agreement with a telco in the Philippines to provide equipment for their fixed wireless infrastructure deployments. This is significant development considering that there is an urgent need within the blockchain community for commercial deployments. Ammbr will be the world’s first blockchain based wireless infrastructure that will be deployed by a national scale broadband provider.

The Ammbr Research Labs team continues to carry out various research activities, including carrying out blockchain deployments in one of the world’s largest mesh network, Guifi.net. We have jointly evaluated a live deployment of Hyperledger Fabric in a large-scale wireless mesh network. The results of the work were presented at the Workshop on Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains for Distributed Systems at ACM Mobisys, a top tier systems conference. The paper, entitled “Towards Blockchain-enabled Wireless Mesh Networks”, won one of the best paper awards and we were invited to submit a larger evaluation paper to a leading journal.

As part of this exercise, we extended our work by exploring the plausibility of combining decentralized access networks with a permissioned blockchain running on servers inside the access network. This resulted in a model for:

  • an economically self-sustainable decentralized mesh access network
  • guaranteeing trust among participants
  • allowing economic profitability, and
  • enabling low cost Internet connectivity.

We studied the viability of such an approach, by evaluating two of the most prominent platforms for building local blockchain applications: Hyperledger Fabric (HLF) and Ethereum.

We deployed the Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum platforms in the lab testbed as well as in a production wireless mesh network segment that is part of Guifi.net.

The results showed critical aspects that can be optimized in both a Hyperledger Fabric and an Ethereum deployment, from the perspective of decentralized networks, where several components can prove to be bottlenecks and therefore put a limiting effect on the rate of the economic transactions in a mesh network. We analyzed the performance of both platforms using metrics such as transaction latency, CPU and memory utilization. The work has been documented and submitted as a journal paper, and is currently under peer review.

Significant effort has been put into building our first version of a smart contracts platform that enables micropayment-based Internet access within our Ammbr network. Early tests have been extremely promising. We will continue our R&D efforts in building a robust and scalable smart contracts platform, which will be fed into our main development pipeline early next year. We are currently evaluating the performance of our platform and documenting this as a research paper for a major conference.

In September, the Vice President of Technical Standards at Qualcomm, Lorenzo Casaccia, visited our research group in UPC Barcelona. We discussed the current ongoing work at Ammbr and showcased our smart contracts platform as well as our lab testbeds. We also had fruitful discussions with Lorenzo on how Ammbr has positioned itself within the 5G era. Lorenzo praised our efforts afterwards. (https://twitter.com/asathiaseelan/status/1047796658908647425).

Ammbr Research Labs team with Lorenzo Casaccia (VP, Qualcomm)

Our Cape Town team was part of the winning consortium of the Telecom Infra Project’s Open Cellular Grant. The UCT team in the Centre in Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D), iNethi and Ammbr Research Labs South Africa are conducting a pilot programme which will, by the end of the year, connect the 25,000 strong Ocean View community to a host of opportunities through localised services and Internet access.

Ammbr mesh routers, combined with open-cellular base stations, will be used to overcome the high costs of connectivity and access to content. 

Dr. David Johnson and his team in Cape Town

 Residents will be able to share their music, videos, news and learning materials for free within the community. They’ll also be able to connect with each other through a chat service similar to WhatsApp. Access to the internet will be offered in due course, at a much cheaper rate than current options.

We continue to work with our collaborators and key industry and academic partners and we are in the process of submitting several R&D grants to the EU H2020 programme as well as to international funding calls.

The Ammbr team is highly committed to deliver the necessary technology as well as the economic foundations for enabling universal Internet access and we have ensured our future technology development and partnerships roadmap is well aligned to meet our ambitious vision. Our work will continue…

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.” — Anonymous

Ammbr’s growth: Where have we been?

Ammbr has been growing at a steady rate in recent months and we are excited to let you know about our progress and the hard work being put in by our ever-expanding team.

After extensive collaboration last year, the Ammbr Foundation licensed AmmbrTech to develop and manufacture the first Ammbr blockchain mesh wifi routers. AmmbrTech has demonstrated its abilities and the team has grown significantly, as we recruited experts from around the world that are committed to Ammbr’s vision.

Our team comprises of industry leaders with a wealth of experience in our various fields. But, even more importantly, our team believes in Ammbr’s vision and have already demonstrated their expertise, as well as their drive to ensure that we succeed and meet our goals with distinction, both in developing our state of the art technology as well as using that technology to empower billions of people around the world.

The hardware and software development of the Ammbr router is ongoing. To better support the strategy of collaboration with academia and existing community networks, Ammbr Research Labs has been established as a subsidiary of AmmbrTech, under the management of Dr. Arjuna Sathiaseelan in Cambridge, UK. Ammbr Research Labs brings together existing, peer-reviewed and widely acknowledged work from the diverse R&D team. The team has collectively released over a thousand peer-reviewed research publications and open source technologies. They are steadfast in setting the benchmark for blockchain based mesh networks. Several pilot trials of the technology are scheduled for Europe, Africa and Asia starting in Q2 of 2018.

We are also releasing the first commercial piece of hardware shortly – a hardware wallet capable of storing cryptographic tokens. The new device – a bitcoin hardware wallet in its first release – is scheduled for launch in Q2 2018. This hardware wallet represents the first in a line of private key management tools to ensure security and a comprehensive, self-sovereign digital identity and digital asset framework for Ammbr users.

Beyond our technological aspirations, the Ammbr Foundation is as determined as ever to engage with all stakeholders to ensure that our product finds its way into the hands of those who truly need it – the 4.1 billion people without access to reliable internet. Our governmental interactions, as well as grassroots community support for early deployment trials are going extremely well, and we are receiving wholehearted support.

Looking ahead, Ammbr is working on laying the proper foundations for the creation of a fully decentralized telecommunications network, with edge computing capabilities at scale, and an overlaying economic framework that supports a wide variety of applications across multiple sectors.
As we work towards that, we will continue to make use of our existing partnerships with several community networks. We are already working with these communities in co-designing our core platform offering. Through these networks, we hope to ensure rapid early adoption across half a million potential users within the first year.

To learn more about us, please continue following us on social media platforms, as well as ammbr.com, for more updates.

Ammbr: The Free and Open Internet

Arjuna Sathiaseelan – [email protected]

Recent weeks have witnessed constant media attention surrounding Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’ s plans to dismantle the 2015 FCC Open Internet Order [1] that mandates “net neutrality” – that all internet content be treated equally. The order banned operators from throttling traffic and prohibited operators from offering so called “fast lanes” to organisations willing to pay extra to reach consumers more quickly than competitors. FCC’s argument was that repealing net neutrality will offer consumers tiered plans, with greater ability to choose an Internet access plan that meets the consumer’s needs. FCC argues that in the last two years the 2015 order has stifled innovation and has delayed deployment of new services due to the “heavy handed utility style” regulatory environment dictated by the 2015 order leading to fallen broadband investments [2]. This has led to widespread criticisms from net neutrality purists, who believe that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. Their concern is that network operators prioritising certain applications or services could provide an unfair market advantage to larger service providers, while shutting out smaller firms.

The net neutrality debate certainly applies to the Internet economies in the West, but it’s yet to be seen whether the same goes for emerging economies where there is little local competition in the first place. These economies suffer from local monopoly or oligopoly due to lack of competition – a main reason for inflated internet access costs. High Internet access subscription costs is one of the major reasons cited for why only 51% of the world’s population are online i.e. ~3 billion people without Internet access.

Providing a means for new firms to enter the market in a fair manner can create the right environment leading to reduced costs – but this requires a better regulatory environment too. The need for a free and open Internet has led to several calls to “end our reliance on big telecom monopolies and build decentralized, affordable, locally owned Internet infrastructure” [3].

Enter Ammbr

Ammbr’s vision is to build the world’s largest fully decentralised, self-sustainable, wireless mesh telecommunications network using blockchain technology. Using this network, Ammbr will compete with centralised legacy telecommunications distribution models to provide universal fast Internet access. Ammbr combines wireless advances with the emerging technology of blockchain to bridge the last-mile gap that traditional cable and telecom wireless systems handle poorly.

Specific reasons why Ammbr will adhere to the net neutrality rules providing a free and open Internet:

  1. Ammbr provides a fully decentralised and distributed last mile access where all Ammbr node providers are owners of the network with no centralized control. The Ammbr infrastructure will be federated by a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) that resides in every node ensuring the Ammbr network provides access to both local and global services in a free (freedom) and open manner. The DAO will thus ensure that every node in the Ammbr network fulfills these mandatory rules. Any node that does not comply to the rules set by the DAO, will be not be able to participate in the consensus process and will be eventually removed from the network.
  2. The mesh capabilities of the Ammbr network ensures that there are multiple paths for accessing both the local and global Internet services.
  3. Freedom and openness is also promoted in terms of open collaboration, open access and open participation – through Ammbr Foundation’s (a non profit foundation) motivation to open source both the hardware and the software of the Ammbr technology. This enables anyone to adopt our technology and be part of the Ammbr network utilizing their own adaptations and implementations.
  4. Ammbr’s strong collaboration and partnership with community network operators such as guifi.net in Catalunya (the world’s largest community network in the world), Ninux in Italy etc ensures the commitment with neutrality, freedom and open access to Internet and its services are always preserved.

As a last mile infrastructure, Ammbr will provide neutral, free and open Internet access. However, Ammbr does not have any control of the backhaul or the core of the Internet – where certain restrictions might be placed for accessing specific content e.g. Internet censorship in certain countries. Ammbr has to abide by the legal rules and regulations set by the governments. This also leads to interesting challenges that Ammbr must address – the decentralization of both the access and service infrastructures will enable any content/services to run on an Ammbr network. Thus the DAO rules should ensure that the Ammbr network and its services are always federated according to country specific rules and regulations.

References

  1. FCC Releases Open Internet Order, https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-releases-open-internet-order, March 2015.
  2. Restoring Internet Freedom, FCC Fact Sheet, November 2017.
  3. To Save Net Neutrality, We Must Build Our Own Internet, https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7x4y8a/net-neutrality-fcc-community-networks, November 2017.

A view into the future and a seat at the table

Recently Derick Smith, Dean Bubley, and Dr. Arjuna Sathiaseelan from Ammbr sat down to discuss mesh technology, blockchain, computing at the edge and took a hands on look at an early Ammbr prototype router. They cover a lot of territory and address so many current challenges and future potential.

Arjuna summarizes at the end that: “This solves one of the biggest fundamental problems in terms of enabling universal connectivity, right, and I think Ammbr is well positioned to do that.”

The Innovation Behind the Ammbr Mesh Router

Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their internet routers. If they think about them at all, it’s as that boring little plastic box that has to be restarted when the internet goes out. That’s about to change. As more and more devices become IoT (internet of things) compatible, today’s humble home router will soon become the nerve center of a new, blockchain-ready innovation in networking technology. Continue reading “The Innovation Behind the Ammbr Mesh Router”

When Blockchain Technology and Mesh Networking Collide

From the very start, blockchain technology was revolutionary. The concept alone is groundbreaking, with entirely new kinds of industry — cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, document verification — emerging within months of the original Bitcoin whitepaper’s publication. What has been less obvious, however, are the practical, day-to-day uses for blockchain technology.

Forget about the potential, the speculation, and the hype. What about a practical application for blockchain technology that actually works here and now? That’s easier said than done. We should know, because we’ve spent years building a blockchain-based system to solve a real-world problem. Continue reading “When Blockchain Technology and Mesh Networking Collide”

AMMBR COMMUNITY

TOWARDS AN OPEN AND INCLUSIVE INTERNET

Ammbr is an initiative to build scalable and resilient infrastructure to deal with the so-called “last mile” connectivity problem. More than half the world’s population – according to the ITU some 3.9 Billion – is not connected, or has consistently bad Internet connectivity. Solving this problem is therefore a crucial factor in overcoming a host of societal and economic imbalances.

Continue reading “AMMBR COMMUNITY”