Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peer-to-Peer Phone Network


I was standing in the bathroom washing my face this morning and I got this amazing idea*; an idea to revolutionize communications and reduce the cost of phone calls!

Imagine an anonymous phone network where you can create a number when you want, and dump the number when you want.
Imagine a phone network where you call and receive phone calls for free.
Imagine a phone network that allows you to block numbers for free.
Imagine a phone network where you have free voicemail and voicemail-to-email service.
Imagine a phone network that links all your numbers (p2p, GSM, landline) providing full reachability.

This is the: Peer-to-Peer Phone Network (PPPN: Pronounced: Pippin).

* A light-bulb didn't flash above my head, because it was morning and Tarsheed would've bludgened me to death with a bunch of old bulbs...

How Does It Work?

Still reading? Great! Let me explain how this works!

The Pippin Network consists of two parts: Nodes and Clients.

Nodes: A bunch of people buy a tiny computer that has customized free software packages on it. This PC is connected to a network that can reach the Internet. This PC is considered a node in the Pippin Network.

Clients: You have a PC, laptop, or a mobile phone with an Internet subscription. You download a free program on your phone that connects to the Pippin Network. Once you login to your extension/number, you reach any extension you want by going over the Internet through the Pippin Network.

That's it!


I spent the past 7-10 days setting up a PBX at home and just today I got this idea. I searched online on the concept and turns out there is a similar idea, but the implementation method is different. That idea was to have the mobile phones act as both the node and the client. This not the case with The Pippin Network.


Pippin Network relies on an existing GSM network by mobile phone carriers and on people donating bandwidth for people to call each other.

The reliance on the GSM network is actually good, because we mitigate the problem of having to figure out how to handle hand-offs, that is, when moving between Access Points. Since you're receiving your Internet through your carrier, your mobile is already handling hand-offs gracefully and guarantees almost zero down-time and full availability of the service.

To route and connect calls between clients (people), we need nodes with Internet connection. Node-providers (not owners) are donating free bandwidth. Since upload bandwidth is typically low (up to 512kbps only), it makes it more valuable and dissuade people from becoming node-providers, but there are workarounds; continue reading.

Is It Really Free?

Not quite. You need to have the following:
  1. Mobile phone/PC/Laptop

  2. Internet subscription from your carrier/ISP (Zain, Wataniya, Viva)

  3. Enough nodes to sustain the clients calling each other (idle ones don't count)

Legal Issues

Question: Voice-over-IP technology is banned from use in Kuwait. How will this work?!
Answer: VoIP is banned from being used for International calls. It's perfectly legal to use it within Kuwait.

Question: But calls are going over the Internet. You're providing International reach and it's illegal.
Answer: Wrong. Pippin network is designed to be restricted to Kuwait only. (See the technical section for details)

Question: What happens in cases of harassment and abuse?
Answer: What happens if I create an email and harass you?

Project Status

As of this writing, the project is still a draft that I'm working on. There are many of things to check and test existing software to see how to tweak it to see if it fits the project's needs.

Do I need help?
I sure can't pull this off on my own in a reasonable amount of time, if any. So I'd rather work with a team where each specializes in an aspect of the project, or at least is willing to learn about the aspect assigned.

This projects taps into the following concepts and fields:

  • Decentralized Networks

  • Telephony (Using Asterisk and SER) and VoIP

  • Dynamic DNS

  • Mobile Java

If you feel that you can aid to the project in any way (not necessarily in the above areas), contact me. If you don't hear from me with in 48-hours, post a comment here.

I also recommend that you post a comment here (even an empty one) and subscribe by email, if you wish to be updated on the status of the project.


Bashar said...

It was once said, any person who's had a shower have had a great idea. But in your case it's washing your face, which is quite close.

Anyways, you really made some thinking into it I actually thought the name really exists (before this post :).

Talking legal, I'm sure if this really works and MOC notices it, it will become illegal trust me. Also, funny you mentioned GSM network handles hand-off with almost zero down time. For Wataniya at least, this is so untrue! I keep loosing calls at specific locations while driving, at home, and once I switched from 3G to 2G... I only realized hours later my phone had zero service and I missed important calls!

I'd like to see how this goes, love to help with little time that I may have, though I can't see how.

Keep it up.

PS: You have badliya [There are of things to check and test existing software] since you like pointing them :P

MBH said...


Thanks for noting the typo. Corrected.

I've written the technical draft but haven't published it, since it will most likely be changed a lot while I test the various software packages.

Regarding the GSM hand-off issue, I guess Wataniya doesn't have good coverage where you were going.
If you can't have decent phone reception, you shouldn't expect a better performance of any service running on-top of the GSM network!

BloggyLife said...

Interesting :)

Let me see if I got this ...

Regarding the registration, ppl will get to choose the no. they want and they'll get it if it's free and then if the client is off, what, the no. is released and can be used?

so is the no. associated with the login credentials.?

How can ppl reach each other, call the username or the no.? I mean which is unique?

hmmmm, what else ??

How will MOC feel about that, nothing I guess, since we are already paying for the landline that provides most Internet connections.

I'll get a more clear idea once you release the draft.

7asafa I missed the typo :P

MBH said...

The login is the number. The number can be dumped, and only then, another person can pick it up.

Logging off doesn't mean that the number is free to use by someone else.

MOC won't intervene as it doesn't affect it; it's more likely that carriers (Zain, Wataniya, Viva) will try to block the traffic. (I already have thought of methods to maneuver their attempts :p)