FreedomTower

From The Commons
Jump to: navigation, search
Error creating thumbnail: File missing
Tower deployed in Austin, 2011

FreedomTowers are owned and operated by those that benefit from them. They benefit entire neighborhoods – communities on the order of five to ten thousand individuals. FreedomTowers perform critical Layer 1 network operations, and help the neighborhood mesh run efficiently. In addition to improving the throughput of Layer 1 connectivity, FreedomTowers participate in the Layer 2 regional mesh. This means that neighborhoods can connect directly to one another, and that material peer-to-peer is not limited in scope to local communities.

Like all components of the Free Network Stack, the exact implementation and role of the FreedomTower is flexible; the currently pursued architecture is to have some towers connect "upstream" via high-bandwidth FCC-licensed 3.6GHz radio links to FreedomLink nodes in existing industry fiber connectivity sites, to route tower-to-tower over either the same licensed links or directional 5GHz WiFi links, and to provide "downlink" connectivity to a WiFi mesh of FreedomNodes and FreedomBoxes.

FreedomTowers have so far been assembled and deployed for short periods independent of the rest of the stack by using retail "4G" wireless modem uplinks. See ConstructionDocs for a recommended bill of materials and assembly instructions.

Software

The Ubiquity directional radio units run AirOs, but just act as "dumb" bridges; the router computer runs pfSense (based on BSD).

When acting as a component of the Free Network Stack, towers will fill the role of neighborhood wireless mesh "Super Nodes" (coordinating mesh routing) and additional software packages and daemons to manage upstream routing, neighborhood services (mailing lists, chat, wiki, etc), user device authentication, resource abuse and accounting, etc will be required.

Hardware

Error creating thumbnail: File missing
First-gen FreedomTower Crate Internals, 2011

See ConstructionDocs for details and a full bill of materials

The core components of a "permanent" FreedomTower are:

  • A relatively reliable source of electrical power...
    • Could be a quiet fossil-fuel power generator such as the Honda EU1000i ($800 plus fuel)
    • Or a sustainable power solution like solar panels or a wind turbine
    • Or simply a nearby AC power plug
    • Combined with un-interuptable power supply such as the APC BE750G ($100)
  • A "upstream" radio/modem...
    • Could be "legacy" a 4G modem such as the Clear Series M ($80 plus monthy service around $40)
    • Or 3.6GHz Free Network backhaul equipment such as the AirFiber radios from Ubiquity ($1500)
  • A low-power "headless" computer to act as a router, and a cheap 8-port network switch
  • Three 2.4GHz 802.11b/g WiFi radio units (Ubiquiti hardware $80 each)
  • Three 5GHz 802.11a/n WiFi radio units (Ubiquiti hardware $80 each)
  • A robust enclosure for electronics (crate for $115)
  • Radio mast/pole (3 meters)

Status

May 2012: NYC deployment of "mobile edition" tower ("internet in a suitcase")

October 2011: Two first-generation FreedomTowers were deployed at OWS sites in NYC and Austin, TX (blog post)

More Resources

Free Network Infrastructure Projects (edit)
Appliances: Box - Node - Tower - Link
Software: AutoNOC - AutoTunnel
Facilities: FreedomCenter - GuifiUS - FNF_Lab
Big picture: The Free Network Stack