TerraNet, the Swedish firm, is testing a peer-to-peer technology that is based on VoIP to enable mobiles to act as peers and nodes on a network. The could result in technology to establish phone calls without the need of base towers, which would also prove a boon for communication in times of disasters.
A quote from the article at Ars Technica:
Each handset looks for other handsets within a 2 km range. Calls and text messages are then routed through the handset nodes, with a maximum of seven hops, until they reach their destination. As the company points out, that's enough to cover a rural village or a disaster zone.
Computers with a USB dongle could act as access points in the mesh network. TerraNet is backed by Ericsson in this venture. The technology can easily be incorporated into cell phones and paves the way for stupendous possibilities in making communication accessible at very low-priced handsets.
A phone equipped with such peer-to-peer technology could essentially provide local connectivity free of charge. It's puzzling why other phone majors have not signed up to this technology, which virtually opens a new avenue to provide the gift of wireless communication to lesser-privileged individuals.
More news links:
TerraNet develops peer to peer mobile calls (PocketLint)
A new way to make mobile calls coming? (Tech.co.uk)