The other day I was mentioning to a co-worker (who spends his off-hours at Occupy Dallas) that what smartphones need is a mesh app that allows folks in a spot to contact each other relay voice/data for each other.
This is a screenshot of my rooted Optimus T using free/open serval mesh to hold a quasi-phonecall with my old G1. The default is to use your normal phone number, and when you make the call (like normal) you choose telco or mesh. Or pick the number from the peer list and connect immediately.
In case this isn’t sinking in: the G1 didn’t have a SIM in it and it wasn’t using my WAP for the call. I am not claiming mesh wifi is going to replace commercial cell towers, but imaging the possibilities for areas where infrastructure never existed, is spotty, or has gone temporarily or permanently out of service.
Sidenote: imagine what widespread SIP client adoption and community wifi access points would do to the price of mobile telephony. Hey google, figured out what to do with all that dark fiber yet?
Back to serval: apparently the wifi mesh is good for 150′ between nodes, meaning you’d need to have a phone every 150′ to stay in the mesh. Easy to do in a crowd. Or consider a smartphone left jacked into power and left in a windowsill above a given site.
This stuff is still rough, but texting is on the drawing boards and data is possible (though battery draining).
An article about serval mesh.