GAIUS - Local Internet in a Box

About Solution

GAIUS Networks is a New York University spinout startup with an ambitious vision of solving the last mile content provisioning challenge for the next three billion users in emerging markets.Problem

Many challenges hinder web access in developing regions, including poor connectivity, high server latencies, and the growing complexity of web pages. A typical web page downloaded by a browser may involve: (a) downloading 100+ objects [1]; (b) spawning 30+ network connections; (c) issuing 20+ DNS requests with high response times; and (d) processing several layers of recursive requests triggered by JavaScript and HTTP redirections.

Beyond these well-known issues, one major problem that has not been explored in detail is the lack of easily accessible, locally relevant content. Since the vast majority of web content is produced elsewhere, there is a shortage of content relevant to users in developing regions. Several aspects of the existing web ecosystem makeit hard for people in developing regions to publish web content:
(i) despite the shift toward mobile, publishing web content from amobile phone is awkward, (ii) hosting is relatively expensive, (iii)the lack of platforms to share and discover local web content, and(iv) the irrelevance of advertisements that power the economics oftoday’s “free” Internet.
SolutionTo address these problems, we propose GAIUS, a new mobileweb ecosystem for local content creation and diffusion. The GAIUSecosystem is primarily designed for empowering a localized webabstraction and is not meant as a complete replacement for the conventional web.Architecturally, GAIUS consists of a set of distributedservers that host GAIUS content and an application running onuser’s smartphone device that enables creation and consumptionof content.GAIUS makes several key simplifying design choices:
  • Locality and Edge servers: GAIUS makes an explicit distinctionbetween local and global content providers. Every mobileuser and content provider is associated with a localitythat determines the visibility of their content among users.A locality can be defined at various granularities, e.g. servinga large city or a small town. Every locality is associatedwith an edge server that handles all the requests from userswithin the locality.
  • Channels: Rather than websites, the simplified abstraction forcontent in GAIUS is a channel. Analogous to Twitter feedsor television channels, GAIUS allows mobile users to act ascontent providers to create channels and publish content ontheir channels. The content provider dictates the visibilityof a channel within and across localities. Users access contentby searching and subscribing to channels. GAIUS alsoenables conventional web content providers (such as newssites) to auto-convert their website into channels.
  • Mobile App Markup Language (MAML): GAIUS channels arerepresented in a highly concise Mobile Application MarkupLanguage (MAML) format instead ofHTML, CSS and JavaScript.The MAML format is streamlined to reduce the complexityof web pages. The GAIUS app on an end user’s device actsas a MAML browser and receives, interprets, and rendersthe MAML pages.
  • Content meets Ads at the Edge: GAIUS explicitly decouples content and advertisements. Every locality is associated with a set of local advertisement providers who power the GAIUS ecosystem. Channels are associated with explicit spaces for advertisements. When a user requests a particular page within a channel, a GAIUS policy engine takes into accountuser’s preferences, content provider’s policies, and advertiser’scontracts to choose the advertisements for a specificcontent.
We have early deployments of GAIUS in several communitiesaround the world. The current deployment of GAIUS supports bothuser-created localized channels and an automatic conversion ofseveral localized web sources to localized channels. Our deploymentalso supports highly popular web content as global channels.
Our early deployment demonstrates that GAIUS enablesusers to create and publish pages without extensive training orweb publishing experience and highlights how users can intuitivelycontrol their data consumption through the GAIUS app.
The grant if successful would help us establish several of our pllanned trials with a telco operator in Philippines, community telco operators in Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua and Cape Town & joint deployments with Ammbr ( in India.



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