What would a cooperatively owned and operated communications infrastructure look like? One that used peer-to-peer technologies to create a global network which is immune to censorship and resistant to breakdown? It appears The Free Network Foundationis building one.I noticed a few people bouncing this idea around on the Next Net google groupearlier in the year, and now they seem to be moving forward quickly, with Occupy Wall Street a convenient catalyzing event to get things shipped.Their vision is to create a global communications infrastructure that is owned and operated by participants in the network, rather than by for-profit network operators.

They currently have a prototype FreedomTower up and running at Occupy Austin, with a second one set up in Liberty Park at Occupy Wall Street in NYC. The towers are providing internet access to the occupiers, and will be used to establish an occupation-to-occupation Virtual Private Network.

For the more technically inclined, the foundation has published a bill of materials and how-to. The total cost of a tower comes in at $1500. The tower consists of an uninterruptible power supply, two wimax modems, a nettop computer, a network switch, three 2.4GHz sector antennas, and three 5GHz sector antennas. The computer runs software for routing and terminating VPN tunnelling.

If you’d like to contribute to this effort, visit freenetworkfoundation.org. There you can find a link to donate, and contact information if you wish to participate. The FNF has put the call out for occupiers everywhere to raise funds, read up, and get to work building resilient communications infrastructure for the movement.

members of the Free Network Foundation will be exhibiting their project this week at the Contact Summit!