Relaynet will be the computer network on which humankind can truly rely, and the first order of business is to establish or restore connectivity in regions where the Internet is unavailable due to natural or human causes.
Cheap satellite-based services like Starlink and hot-air balloons like Loon’s will fortunately solve this problem to a large extent, but they won’t always be viable options. While cheaper, Starlink still won’t be affordable enough at $80/month and $100-$300 to set up. On the other hand, Loon needs almost two days to deploy balloons in a disaster zone, and they require authorization from the local government.
Relaynet will be significantly slower than either solution when the Internet is unavailable, but it will be instantly available to anyone in the world when they need it. That includes survivors in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and people living under a repressive regime that cut off the Internet.
Relaynet was designed by Gus Narea at the University of Oxford with the initial goal of circumventing censorship by repressive governments, and he later founded Relaycorp to support and scale the Relaynet project while keeping it as open and inclusive as possible.
The security of the design has been independently assessed and Relaycorp are currently building the foundation of the technology thanks to a contract with the Open Technology Fund.
We expect Relaynet to be functional on desktop and Android by Q3 2020, after the security and UX of the implementations have been independently assessed. The implementations can be found under the @relaycorp organization on GitHub.
How to contribute
As soon as the foundation of Relaynet is available, our top priorities will be: to help service providers integrate or prototype the integration of Relaynet, and to start running small-scale pilots with couriers. Please contact us if you’re interested in helping with either priority!
We’re always keen to get feedback on the privacy and security of Relaynet, so if you’re an expert in cryptography and/or networking, we’d very much welcome your feedback on the specs and the apps we’ve built so far (Relaynet Pong, the public gateway and the Android Courier). Please feel free to open an issue or create a PR in the corresponding GitHub project!
Other than the above, a great way to help is to follow us on Facebook/Twitter and spread the word about Relaynet! Once the applications we’re writing stabilize by Q3 2020, we’ll also be welcoming code contributions and translations, so please bear with us.
Finally, prospective contributors are highly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Zen of Relaynet as it describes the guiding principles behind all the major decisions we’ve made.