Althea Community Update, Summer 2020

Althea Community Update, Summer 2020

On a farm in Oregon, a camera system watches over a herd of goats. The does are near their time to kid, and the farmer watches over them while on-the-go with the nearby online cameras. Watching livestock with cameras has become relatively easy and commonplace in modern, rural life, but what is novel here is the way this farm gets their internet connection.

This Oregon farm is part of an Althea network, so instead of one, siloed monthly subscription, the farmer’s Althea router selects the best upstream provider on a second-by-second basis, based on his choice of best quality or cost. For this farmer, he doesn’t need low latency for the goat cams to work well, so he sets his Althea router to prefer the more affordable rate. Then, when it’s time for gaming in the evening, he select a preference for "quality" and nearly instantly enjoys a lower latency connection.

Althea's innovative price aware routing protocol selects the best route based on user preference. 

Most of the neighboring farms in Marshland are part of this same interconnected Althea network, and many of his neighbors earn credit in the form of Dai, a blockchain based stable coin, for hosting relay antennas that connect nearby houses.

The Althea system is much more affordable to set up than legacy ISPs and can be built faster as well. Recently, in nearby Knappa Oregon, local IT professional, Stephen, started an Althea network in about 4 weeks. For years, the people of Knappa had only slow DSL or satellite internet and when Covid hit, the digital divide became even more of a life threatening obstacle. The school district here estimated that as many as forty percent of the students lacked access to broadband. The disparate population and challenging hilly topography of the area, makes the economics of legacy ISPs difficult to pencil out. Althea’s agile and resilient approach leverages private property to build quickly and affordably. We now have a fiber backhaul online, as well as about a dozen subscribers and key relays with connected neighbors. Knappa residents can now take advantage of fast internet, 50-70Mbps, for about $35/month.

New subscribers in Knappa. 
Subscribers in Knappa are getting speeds 10-15 times faster with Althea than the incumbent, legacy ISPs. 

Althea is not just in the Northwest either! We recently celebrated the launch of an Althea network in Enfield, North Carolina, operated by Wave 7 Communications. Wave 7 is bringing high speed, affordable internet access to an area with limited options and 250GB data caps from the incumbent telco. Althea is not only a flexible model great for subscribers, it’s plug-and-play tech that makes it easy for anyone to start and manage their network. And with the launch of our new network tools, management of routers and antennas can all be done remotely.

Installing new subscribers in Enfield!
New network tools help operators manage their networks and revenue.

We’ve streamlined our process of getting started with networks, with an initial proposal, an online store, and a pre-configured “mini-mesh” kit to help get people acquainted with the system. We’ve been shipping out quite a few of those lately, and are excited about all these new networks. One of those new networks, ElWEll, looks to be live in the coming weeks, providing high speed internet for the city of Watertown, Tennessee and surrounding areas.

Mini-mesh kits ready to ship out to new Althea networks. 

Networks in Tacoma and Denver had the misfortune of getting off the ground just as Covid hit, but are looking forward to installing again now as things begin to open up. The Hilltop area has almost 200 people on the sign-up sheet, waiting to be installed.

Covid hurt our supply chain and slowed the progress of our Abuja network too, but we are moving forward again, focusing on mobile users.

New relay in Abuja, powered by solar, and overlooking a nearby market.

We are excited to announce the launch of the new network in Lagos,the largest Nigerian city, and will be working closely with the Auranetisp team as they build out a mobile-focused network throughout the city.

We are also excited to welcome new Altheahoods in Tucson and Nevada City in the United States and Tema in Ghana. We’ll also be working together with QuillaLabs & Universidad Simón Bolívar to bring affordable connectivity to the Atlantic Departament of Colombia.

The importance of high quality and affordable internet has been apparent for years, but the pandemic has highlighted just how imperative broadband is. And, until recently, building infrastructure to address the divide has involved years long planning and expensive builds. Althea’s agile model means networks can now begin building in weeks, and decentralized ownership and commoditization of bandwidth aligns incentives so networks are sustainable and grow organically.

Ready to start building your own Althea network? Check out our getting started guide here and join us on Discord for further discussion.