Your mobile has been your phone, calculator, alarm, mini computer and so many other things. However, do you know it can also be your own radio station?
According to report published in Daily Bhaskar, Prof Kavitha Ranganathan and Prof Ankur Sarin, faculty members at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), have proposed to use mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs) to start community radio service where each community member can air his/her own programme.
MANETS are conventionally used in areas like disaster recovery or military operations. It uses various network capabilities of a mobile phone, such as Bluetooth, WiFi and the cell network itself, to form a mess of devices in the near vicinity.
Each device in a MANET is free to move independently in any direction, and will therefore change its links to other devices frequently. Each must forward traffic unrelated to its own use and therefore be a router.
The primary challenge in building a MANET is equipping each device to continuously maintain the information required to properly route traffic. Such networks may operate by themselves or may be connected to the larger Internet.
In a working paper, titled “A Voice for the Voiceless: Peer-to-peer Mobile Phone Networks for a Community Radio Service”, Ranganathan and Sarin propose a decentralised community station in which users will be required to buy a basic low-end mobile phone preloaded with the MANET software.
The software is used for groups of mobile devices without any centralised administration or control which form an ad hoc network among themselves. The paper states that if there are enough such users, the phone will automatically form an exclusive network among them enabling users to talk to one another and exchange other forms of data.
“We envision a true peer service where any participant of the peer-to-peer network can be a source of audio content. This entails each phone in the network to broadcast reliable and efficient voice-based data packets to every other node in the network,” states the paper.
The idea of the MANET based community radio channel is to be completely decentralised. Every community member is equally equipped to air their content on the radio service, without a central authority choosing or filtering the content.
To decide which user will be allowed to broadcast at what time, the paper proposes a weekly in-person meeting of the community members where all users interested in an airslot can participate.
“A weekly schedule can be drawn up in a democratic fashion, a simple table of node identities (phone numbers), start times and end times. This table can then be confidentially broadcast to all nodes and stored in each peer phone’s memory. When a user tries to broadcast content, it is only forwarded to other nodes if the schedule permits it,” states the paper.
To filter content during broadcast, the paper suggests use of a decentralised reputation based scheme where users can keep track of past performance of their peers and regulate participation depending on their reputation.