Net neutrality principle prohibits Internet service providers from treating sites and types of traffic differently. They are allowed to provide paid or limited access to a specific site, as well as increase the speed of access for a fee. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States introduced the net neutrality rules, championed by then President Barack Obama. Ajit Pai, a new FCC Chairman, appointed by President Donald Trump last January, has been known for his negative attitude toward the regulation. As a result, on December 12, 2017, he unveiled his plans to repeal the net neutrality policy. On December 14, 2017, the vote of the FCC Council members took place and the initiative was adopted. According to the FCC, the decision will increase market competition and eliminate monopoly of providers such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T.
In practice, for users, net neutrality means access to the Internet at a fixed price without the speed limit. After its repeal, the model will become similar to cable TV, when providers offer different service packages depending on the speed and services (social networks, email, games, etc.). Many people believe that such model would reduce the quality of access to many services and in general to the Internet.
But there is a way out. Mesh network is an old technology that provides access to the Internet, bypassing traditional providers. Their role is played by the network nodes that connect with one another and join all network users. With the use of blockchain, the network has all chances to get a second wind. Karl Floersch, an Ethereum developer and Casper researcher, states: “If we get some crazy net neutrality regulation, then they can expect a crazy mesh network fire-back.” Among other technical advantages of the mesh network, it is worth mentioning that each connected client increases its capacity, the Internet is becoming available and free everywhere, and the user cannot be disconnected because they are providers themselves. "Your own Internet," available only to mesh network users, is the next step in the wireless networks development.
Floersch suggested an Ethereum-based Meshcoin system that can run on any device with the use of off-chain technology. Using linked smart contracts, a mobile device becomes a wireless network and generates the node, i.e., executes the Wi-Fi functions, familiar to everyone. When nodes (i.e., devices) are connecting to one another, the network is extending. “Ethereum and mesh networks are a fantastic combination,” Floersch says, adding: “Ethereum will allow for the kind of payment back-end which makes a mesh network scalable.” As a concrete solution to the scalability, Flersh offers Ethereum’s micro-payment system—known as Microraiden—that is based on the Raiden technology, which was launched in early December and is similar to the Lightning Network.
An Ethereum programmer Hayden Adams is actively developing the technology. He is sure that the off-chain solutions for Ethereum scalability are ready for such breakthrough and offers the project called Plasma, which was created by Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Pun, a co-author of the Lightning Network white paper.
Nowadays the New York mesh network has grown up to 70 nodes and is sponsored by donations, with Catalan Guifi.net, the significant mesh network, counting more than 37,000 active nodes and having its own fund. Adams believes that ether or another Ethereum-based token will allow users to pay for others to get access to the network, would upgrade the mesh network to a whole new level.
But some mesh network users see no need to use blockchain. In particular, developer Brian Hal has posted his opinion to the NYC Mesh blog.
On the contrary, others believe that it is much better than other Ethereum implementations:
Most of the Twitter users support the development of technology: