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How Hong Kong Protesters Are Connecting, Without Cell Or Wi-Fi Networks

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Protesters continue to organize in Hong Kong’s central business district, many of them are messaging one another through a networkedapp called FireChat.

The network does not require cell towers as it is underpinned by mesh networking, which lets phones unite to form a temporary Internet.

So far, mesh networks have proven themselves quite effective and quickly adopted during times of disaster or political unrest, as they don’t rely on existing cable and wireless networks.

>FireChat’s popularity is surging in Hong Kong. About 100,000 users downloaded the free FireChat app between Sunday morning and Monday morning, according to The Wall Street Journal. While there are no reports of cell-network outages so far, student leaders are recommending FireChat for fear authorities may shut off communications.

Gizmodo explains why mesh networks can be critical during tense showdowns with governments:

>”Mesh networks are an especially resilient tool because there’s no easy way for a government to shut them down. They can’t just block cell reception or a site address. Mesh networks are like Voldemort after he split his soul into horcruxes (only not evil). Destroying one part won’t kill it unless you destroy each point of access; someone would have to turn off Bluetooth on every phone using FireChat to completely break the connection. This hard-to-break connection isn’t super important for casual chats, but during tense political showdowns, it could be a lifeline.”

Open Garden, has bigger ambitions for mesh networking:

>”Once you build a mesh network … now you have a network that is resilient, self-healing, cannot be controlled by any central organization, cannot be shut down and is always working,” Christophe Daligault, Open Garden’s vice president for sales and marketing says. “I think that solves many other drawbacks or challenges of the mobile broadband Internet today. Each [phone] becomes a router and in a sense you’re growing the Internet — everyone who joins the mesh network creates an extension of the Internet,” Daligault says. “In a year or two from now, I think people won’t even remember that you had to be on Wi-Fi or get a cell signal to be able to communicate.”

[SOURCE](http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/09/29/352476454/how-hong-kong-protesters-are-connecting-without-cell-or-wi-fi-networks)

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“How Hong Kong Protesters Are Connecting, Without Cell Or Wi-Fi Networks”