Mesh networks are created when devices, such as smartphones and laptops, act as mobile routers. They are capable of transmitting data with or without a connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) or cellular provider.

Mesh data transmission can follow multiple paths. These paths are determined by algorithms that seek out the most efficient way for the data to travel from point-to-point.

By doing so, mesh technology optimizes the path with the goal of achieving the least number of hops. Customizations open the door for modifications according to user preferences and token incentives.

Mesh technology is decentralized. There is huge potential for users that have under-utilized bandwidth (excess data) to develop applications and/or to monetize capacity. Participants may configure and allocate how they want to use and exchange surplus bandwidth.

Though widely accepted, in the current paradigm, peers, who might be standing right next to one another, rely on multiple hops, sometimes requiring satellite transmission in remote areas. This makes data vulnerable to third-party extraction, whether benign or malicious. Ads also become a requirement for long-term financial viability. Most importantly, in crowded environments, centralized servers can simply get overwhelmed and fail.

Many readers have certainly experienced difficulty during a large scale event, such as a baseball game, when sending a text message. Simple actions with your mobile device during such events can be quite slow to complete, and occasionally, messages never reach their intended recipient.

Internet connectivity is also at risk during disasters. For instance, during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 an estimated 25 percent of users in New York City lost some form of connectivity, which lasted weeks in certain instances. Major providers, including Verizon and Google, experienced outages, and there were reports that some cell towers relied on generators to maintain operations. Emergencies are exactly the time we need Internet access the most.

Fortunately, new massive infrastructure is not what mesh networking requires.

Applications that enable a network user to sell excess Internet capacity are in development. There will soon be more than 6 billion smartphones on the planet, many of which will have underutilized connectivity, storage, and processing capabilities, at least some of the time. Just as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb opened the door for anyone to earn cash based upon under-utilized time, vehicle usage, or space in the home, a mesh network can help the next generation of Internet users recover costs by selling these packets en masse.

Each of these pieces will amount to tiny transactions or “smart contracts”. In aggregate, these transactions will be a revenue stream, incentivizing participation, including application development that will further revolutionize functionality.

As mesh technology involves multiple touch points, it makes participants far less vulnerable to malicious use, including spam or virus attacks. This is partly because mesh computing integrates an audit trail (complete with robust authentication) as data packets are transferred. It is a rather tamper-proof system as any given transaction is distributed across the network. In short, mesh networking endeavors to distribute the workload.

Whether we’re talking about online banking or just being able to retrieve your email, it’s worth mentioning that none of this data transfer undoes any of the encryption technologies keeping private data secure any more than an Internet repeater would.

There are huge ramifications for underdeveloped countries. More than 4 billion people are not connected to the Internet. This fact is not lost on the major Internet service providers and telecoms that stand a lot to gain by even attracting a small percentage of this emerging market. Many potential users live in places that lack the infrastructure that the developed world has come to expect—fiber optic, multiple data choices, and so on.

We’re at an important turning point. The existing major players could dominate future access. Or the field could become more democratic, so that everyday users can share their extra bandwidth. Keep in mind that some of this functionality is already built into these devices. You can already share a Personal Hotspot using WiFi or Bluetooth. So it’s not as though only developers will be able to cash in. No doubt new applications will allow everyday users to configure how they share and/or sell their surplus bits, and you won’t need a programming degree to participate.

While more development is needed, RightMesh is working on a service that is transforming how we will use and share data without the Internet. We will do this by enabling existing infrastructure to talk, exchange tokens, and interface across multiple platforms. This is the next generation of network technology. Stay tuned by subscribing to our mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. As well, keep a lookout for our BitcoinTalk thread announcement to arrive at the start of September!