About theWAN

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The WAN is a primarily wireless experimenters network which allows people who want to learn, play games, share information etc. to build the infrastructure to do these things. The target for the WAN is to be able to do this by creating links which will provide a solid network that is maintained by people for people. There is no politics involved.

For some, it's the only way to get broadband. The WAN is a platform like the telephone network for dial-up internet. Eircom provides the telephone network, your provider (which isn't necessarily Eircom) provides the Internet connection. In our case, the WAN provides your connectivity. You can then use the free proxies, a WAN connected provider or somebody who has a internet connection and is willing to share it with you. The WAN does not ask for a minimum term from you or for a monthly fee. Obviously, if you buy an Internet connection from somebody, that will cost you a bit.

The WAN does not come with an SLA. It is a community driven and maintained network, but that does not mean it's unstable. The stability of the WAN depends on how people run their nodes, but the more the WAN grows the less significant this issue becomes as the whole network is routed dynamically with OSPF. If a node goes offline, the WAN will recalibrate and calculate other routes from one place to the other. Even people who are connected to a node which is offline and do not yet have a second route can move their antenna to another node and announce their segment there. So it is in every WAN members own power to avoid offline time.

The WAN is not an Internet Service Provider. It does not come with Internet access by default. Free webproxies which have been sponsored by WAN members do exist and are available for use. Also "thewan.net" email and a jabber based Instant Messaging service, that allows gateways to ICQ, MSN, Yahoo etc., are available freely and can be used to communicate with the "Internet World".

Peering Platform

One of the purposes of the WAN is that companies can connect with their employees at home via the WAN. This includes employees whose connection is provided by a WAN ISP.

Essentially this can happen in two scenarios:

  • The employee connects with a provider who is peering with the WAN; the company he works for connects directly to the WAN.
  • Both employee and company connect to the WAN.

  • Companies
    • Benefits: The company uses less of their paid Internet bandwidth for VPN etc. and can get help within the community on establishing the wireless infrastructure, if they need it.
    • Suggested Contributions: The company could relay traffic for the WAN (wan-to-wan traffic) and at least provide 2 connections into the network and/or provide Internet connectivity in the form of a free webproxy.
  • Internet Service Providers
    • ISPs cannot connect two segments of their own into the WAN and then use the WAN for routing traffic over it, unless they've made agreements with all parties (node-owners) that the traffic would affect.

This way, the WAN grows and essentially becomes a countrywide Network Exchange point with faster access to VPN, mail etc.

Current companies connected to the WAN:

  • Boxplant Software Ltd.
  • South East Software Ltd.
  • Greencraft
  • Aplpi
  • BMR
  • Intraduction Translation Services
  • Tuxbox

Current ISPs peering with the WAN:

  • Airwire
    • Offers 512kbit connection to WAN members for 20 EUR/month incl. VAT. No minimum term, no setup fee, can be paid via PayPal (3 months at a time in that case).
    • Hosts services (Web, VoIP, Messaging and Mail servers) on public IPs for the WAN, so that they are accessible from both the WAN and the Internet regardless of whether or not you are a customer of Airwire.
    • Airwire is actively helping to build the WAN providing technical know how and equipment.

Last Word Interview
Listen to the following interview from April 18, 2007 on the last word where Matt Cooper interviews futurist, Peter Corcoran. Mr. Corcoran explains why projects like theWAN are so essential in a country where the population is as distributed as Ireland. Last word interview