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Serval Mesh (app for Android)

The Serval Mesh app for Android is the Serval Project's flagship software product. It is a free app that provides voice calls, text messaging and file sharing directly over Wi-Fi links between mobile devices. The app communicates with distant devices via intermediate devices using Mesh routing, and uses strong elliptic curve encryption to guarantee privacy and identity even though some phones in the mesh network may not be trusted.

  • Serval Mesh – current, past and forthcoming releases, download and installation, and user documentation
  • Serval Mesh development – copyright and licensing, source code, technical documentation, testing, and issue tracking

Why Wi-Fi?

The Serval Project made the obvious choice of Wi-Fi for wireless communication in disaster situations because:

  • it has widespread regulatory availability – most countries have allocated the Wi-Fi frequency bands for short-range domestic use
  • the Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 standards are mature and broadly adopted
  • Wi-Fi is supported by very many existing devices, including mobile smartphones
  • the Wi-Fi Ad Hoc mode is well suited to mesh networking, although it is not perfect and is poorly implemented by many manufacturers

Why Android?

The Serval Project chose Android as the mobile platform for developing Serval Mesh for the following reasons:

  • feature phones generally do not support Wi-Fi, or do not support Wi-Fi Ad Hoc mode
  • the Apple iPhone is priced far too high to be afforded by the majority of the world's citizens
  • the operating systems and development environments for feature phones and the iPhone are proprietary and therefore:
  • Android permits the Ad Hoc Wi-Fi mode to be enabled (although most commercial handsets must be “rooted” in order to do so)
  • Android's terms and conditions on developers place fewer obstacles to the kind of freedom-oriented development that The Serval Project is pursuing
  • many manufacturers are making and selling Android smart-phones, so there is a wide choice of hardware
  • there are free Android distributions like CyanogenMod which offer alternatives to the locked-down firmware supplied by many manufacturers
  • the price of Android smart-phones is continually dropping, making them more ane more accessible to remote and disadvantaged communities
content/tech/serval_mesh.txt · Last modified: 21/05/2013 00:27 by Andrew Bettison