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We need YOU!

As of late 2008, Melbourne Wireless needs people to help design the next phase of our city-wide network. Enthusiastic individuals with backgrounds in networking, computer administration and those with general technical skills should add their name to the Members section of this page. Be a part of the Free Network Movement today!

Current Goal

To specify the method for connecting nodes that have no line-of-sight to other nodes on the network.

Planned release date: December 1st 2008

Current status: Gathering recruits

There are lots of nodes that are not linked to the rest of the network. Newcomers browsing the maps likely see the majority of nodes close to them are disconnected and feel there is little chance they can connect either, unless of course they are lucky enough to have good line-of-sight to a well connected node.

A large number of people turn away at this critical stage because they perceive it is difficult to connect to the network.

We can turn this situation around by giving anyone with an Internet connection the ability to participate and be a part of the network.

This goal will most likely be achieved using IP tunneling such as described in External linkRFC2003, though there are many exciting technologies which may be more appropriate. Technologies that can run on low-end linux routing hardware such as OpenWRT with only 4MB of RAM should be favoured, though there is room for multiple complimentary technologies (eg: platform specific solutions) if they can cooperate together to provide an enhanced service.

General Goals

Participants in the Melbourne Wireless network are coming to the realisation that peer-to-peer wireless networking at the suburban backyard level is probably not sufficient to create a Melbourne-wide network. Likewise, relying on one single high-visibility site such as Node GHO to connect network clusters across all of Melbourne is fraught with technical difficulties.

Rather than relying on a single network hub, a cellular model for the network is needed, similar to the way GSM mobile phone networks are structured. To achieve this, nodes need to be installed in as many high-visibility sites as possible across Melbourne. Sites such as tall buildings, hilltops, towers, etc.

This group aims to discuss ways of setting up and running backbone nodes in key sites for the Melbourne Wireless network.

This includes tackling the issues of:

This group emphasises a communal approach to node-building, but does not intend to be a replacement for the individual backbone node efforts that are currently going on.


Dan Flett
Ryan (Sneeze)
NodeHDD (Rudi)
NodeGUR (Peter - Melb_AP)
NodeHKF (Mike)

Mailing List

Be notified of changes to this Wiki page - either for every change or only for changes marked as "major".

Discussion Topics

Add your comments and questions here! Don't forget to add your name to your comment.

Is this WG necessary?

17/02/04 - I believe we need a group that will be proactive in explioting key sites for backbone nodes as they become available to Melbourne Wireless people. A group which is not region-based can draw on people from all over Melbourne and begin to specialise in building high-reliability high-visibility nodes. - DanFlett

How does this WG fit in with the Region Groups?

17/02/04 - One possible model for this group would be for it to do the major task of obtaining high quality gear through Sponsorship or other means. The Region Groups can then decide where they want to put this gear. - DanFlett

QoS Routing, bandwidth limiting, port throttling, OSPF regions, MPLS, etc

All to ensure the network does not become saturated to the point where it is painful to use. Also to prevent single users taking all of the available bandwidth in one area at any one point resulting in poor performance for others.

17/02/04 - Would External linkFrottle be a good QoS app to run on these nodes? - DanFlett

18/02/04 - I have had discussions with WAfreeNet'ers and several people overseas who are using Frottle with very good results. - RyanA

18/02/04 - Only problem is that Frottle is a Linux only solution, and certainly isn't included in any web standards. 802.11e and related standards such as 802.15.3 may be of more value. - TysonClugg

18/02/04 - For those of us who would like to live and work in the present rather than the future, and with hardware that we have, not hardware that is not yet available or financially viable.....I think it's extremely unwise to discount Frottle so abrubtly. I fail to see why "web standards" apply in this case. We can hold off indefinitely for something "better" and never actually do anything, or we can work with what we have now. :-\ - Cranky Ryan A

18/02/04 - I don't think using Frottle would let any genies out of any bottles to start with. Even if we get 10 backbone nodes running it wouldn't be too hard to change them over to 802.11e if and when it appears. Is 802.11e a hardware (firmware) or software (OS driver) (or both?) standard? -- DanFlett

18/02/04 - RE: "I think it's extremely unwise to discount Frottle so abrubtly" - who said not use it? We should bear in mind that not everyone runs Linux, and if a Windows user wants to participate in the long-term we should accomodate them. Agreed that in the short-term Frottle is a reasonable solution. -- TysonClugg

18/02/04 - Perhaps QoS issues/discussion should be moved to the QoS page. -- TysonClugg

20/02/04 - I don't think it's likely that a "Windows" user would participate in backbone links unless the link is not windows at all but rather two AP's back to back with no PC's attached. I don't see us "holding back" for the sake of a windows user with respect to network performance, QoS, etc. I believe windows users who simply want to turn their PC's on and off at will are better suited to client nodes. I also cannot see a backbone node running windows being stable for more than a week. We need to be realistic even if it's seen by some as limiting. -- Ryan A Still A Bit Grumpy

Who will own and run these Backbone nodes?

18/02/04 - Not Melbourne Wireless, but the approaches for sponsorship will probably need to be done in Melbourne Wireless' good name. So assuming a company will hand over some goods to us for sponsorship, who takes custody of said hardware? Is this person/entity legally responsible for the oodles of traffic that would traverse such a node? -- DanFlett

19/02/04 - Another thought. Backbone nodes would usually be put together as the result of communal effort and resourcing. So it follows that these nodes would be owned and run by the people who put them together. What we need to do is encourage more of this sort of communal action, and to possibly direct their effors towards the best possible sites we can find. Perhaps drafting a set of formal guidelines for the setting up and running of a communal node would give more people confidence in participating in them. We would want to encourage as open access as possible at the same time as taking the necessary measures to maintain good QoS - an interesting juggling act! -- DanFlett

Steps to completing a Backbone Node project

Sites where we can place Backbone nodes

If you know of a site where we might be able to get permission to put a Backbone node, put it here!

Site Name Contact Name Permission asked? Permission granted? Power avail?
Global Television, Nunawading DanFlett No Not yet Yes
Somewhere on Wheeler's Hill DanFlett No Not yet ???
Local Radio Station @ Jacksons Hill (Sunbury) AdrianLodders No Not yet Yes
St Kilda Road high-site bevans Yes Yes Yes

19/02/04 - As a side issue, do you think it's appropriate that we have a public list of sites that are being approached? Would it be better to keep the list of sites off the public Wiki to prevent people and sites from being scared away? -- DanFlett

19/02/04 - It is probably a Good Idea(tm) to keep a seperate list - and to that end I can create a seperate private WGBackbone wiki on this site if you like... -- TysonClugg

22/02/04 - If it proves difficult to obtain permission for usage at most prime sites, how about some sort of publicity campaign advertising the fact that we're looking for good node sites? Start it small - in the other user groups such as LUV, Melb PC User Group, LAN parties, etc and go from there. Ask people to email a special MW addy, they can give as much or as little information about the site as they want initally, it'll be up to us to follow them up. -- DanFlett

24/02/04 - I think there is a lot more to setting up equipment at prime locations than meets the eye. Things like insurance if the equipment damages someone elses equipment or burns the building down. Also site access, if the site ends up being a major backbone location but for security reason's only a certain person is allowed in and only when their inside contact is there and only when the moon is in alignment with Uranus. -- RyanA

24/02/04 - Huhuhuhuh, you said Uranus. :) I suppose we need to get some legal advice as to what we can do and as to what we shouldn't bother trying to do.
The bases we need to cover would be the legal and insurance issues when:

What are the hard and fast rules, and what are the rules that might change from one property-owner to the next?

Also, has anyone looked at Melbourne Wireless getting insurance to cover these sorts of situations? -- DanFlett

25/02/04 - One avenue we need to keep constantly in mind is our very own LocFinder database. There are probably quite a few nodes subscribed as "interested" who have a great location LOS-wise and don't realise it - they may live on top of a hill but have a few trees around. We could possibly turn up a few good locations just by emailing nodes that we don't know to be active yet.

26/02/04 - Agreed. Personally I feel a bit iffy on approaching prime top-dollar telecommunications locations in an attempt to get tower space handed to us for nothing on a silver platter. I think it's crazy to even think we'd have a chance of tower space at say Global Television in Nunawading. :-\
Whenever I see a node in my area in a location I know is quite good I fire off an email to them. HKR is a prime example of one of these cases. Darren added himself to the node database, within a few days we spotted him and noticed he is at the extreme top of the hill in Heathmont. -- RyanA

27/02/04 - You'll notice I didn't mention the actual tower at Global TV. ;) There are other possible places... I'll ask them soon. I created the list above because I think that the people who are doing the good work of going out and "cold calling" people in prime locations should be talking to each other. As I mentioned above, I've had second thoughts about making such a list public, although knowledge of it's existence should be public. -- DanFlett

03/03/04 - When we do approach companies asking for roof space, perhaps we should ask what they will ask - that is "what's in it for the company?". I've not read or heard anything that gives the impression that Melbourne Wireless as a collective is opposed to companies setting up nodes and using the network - so long as they play by the rules and respect the ideals of the network and the organisation. I can imagine that there are a few companies that would like to link their offices or off-site locations across Melbourne, but not require a mission-critical (and therefore expensive) link. Why not get them involved? And in the process, the Melbourne Wireless network could score some decent high-visibility sites. -- DanFlett

24/9/04 - Well i thought i might add that it might even be possible to get funds from a local counsil, government grant or something like that because i know the knox council funds a LAN event in rowville because it is ment to be a Youth activity -- External linkLucus30

24/4/06 - Do we have any current news on this project?

28/5/06 - Progess !

We have arranged access to two tower sites so far , and are in the process
now of arranging & commissioning equipment for the sites.

Feel free to contact the commitee if you have equipment or tower access to donate to the club.

The new sites are in Nunawadding & Heidelberg.


We seek to come to a conclusion about how to best facilitate the creation and ongoing adminstration of Backbone Nodes on the Melbourne Wireless network.

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