The journey begins

16 July 2021

David Johnson

The initial thinking behind the work on this project is basically this. Althea have made a really good system that couples blockchain economics and mesh networking and has successfully been deployed in the US and Grassroots economics have created a community currency that runs on blockchain and is successfully running in Kenya. The South African team have lots of experience with networking and community networks, the Kenyan team of lots of experience with community currencies.  Bring these technologies and skill sets together and get the best of  wireless mesh networking coupled with a blockchain-based community currency that’s well suited to the African environment.

Here are some of the reflections from our first meeting:

  • Althea initially used XDAI (an Ethereum side that is a stable doing pegged to USD), and switched to Cosmos. But their current stable code still uses XDAI
  • It looks like all mission aligned organisations are on Comsos, which is great from an ecosystem point of view – networking power between orgs has lots of potential. Makes sense from a high level perspectivs
  • If Althea already has something to plug into in terms of hooks to connect your own china that would be great – needs investigation
  • It would be good to start a localized type of chain, and eventually extend it and build a ‘chain of chains’
  • It would be  pretty straightforward to write your own chain and if you have a local scope,  these is no need to look at a global consensus
  • Create tokens that are pegged to bandwidth. these tokens can be private keys used within the network to buy bandwidth. This is likeley what Althea did on xdai and these is no reason why we wouldn’t do it.
  • Tokens could have no intrinsic value to a USD or any currency, we can use them to create vouchers against bandwidth. We’re pegging them to the value of internet access (1GB of data has a certain value) Use the wallet so swap between airtime/ bandwidth credits and community currency that a certain vendor accepts for bread for example
  • one time codes could be used: take the current grassroots economics Sarafu systems and use it to create vouchers to be used for bandwidth and then use these vouchers as a medium of exchange. Or it doesn’t have to be a one time code necessarily, you could use an API in Sarafu to unlock your bandwidth
  • In terms of accounting, every router in the Althea system lets you customize the setting of what you want to charge. It can even discover what others are charging and work out a good market price
  • One issue that will need to be modified that’s currently not possible with Althea. People prefer time based charging vs bandwidth based (5 ZAR per day vs. 5 ZAR per GB)
  • Its easy to meter bandwidth, in the Linux kernel you can see packet flows in IP tables. easier to do bandwidth metered pricing than time based. For time based metering you would need to use the firewall 
  • At the moment the system needs an external roof mounted router (like a Ubiquity Mesh AC lite) and an indoor router (like a WD N750) – these together can cost up to $150. Althea currently runs on the indoor router re-flashed with OpenWRT and runs IPv6 with wireguard tunnels and communicates over layer 2 via the roof mounted routers. If Althea could run on the roof mounted router, it could reduce the cost of the system to $100. This may be possible as Althea is written in Rust and quite memory efficient and small.

Key Takeaway: Bridge what Grasstoots Economics has done, with what Althea has done. Debora from Althea very keen to take this into developing countries. The easiest thing would be to take what Althea has done on XDAI and replace XDAI with a community currency/ generic token. Grassroots Economics wants to get into Cosmos, it’s in the path forward.