Althea Router (or “node”)

This is a router running Althea’s software, which allows it to automatically connect to other Althea routers, and buy and sell internet access to them. Each Althea router has a wallet which can store funds, and is able to find the cheapest and fastest path through the network to get to the internet. These generally look like small home wifi routers, and usually need to be connected to outdoor antennas to connect to other nodes.


Usually refers to a commercial-grade internet connection with a guaranteed speed which can be resold to a large network. These are much pricier than home connections but can handle much more traffic. For instance, a 500 megabit backhaul might be able to supply 200 or more subscribers with 500 megabit internet speeds. Althea networks need backhaul to connect to the global internet, which is provided by gateway nodes.

All networks need a source of bandwidth—some buy it directly from data exchanges on the internet backbone, while others partner with local businesses or WISPs to ..


This stands for “Consumer Premises Equipment” and refers to a smaller, more affordable outdoor antenna. These often connect to the sector antenna of a larger relay node or gateway node. Two CPEs can also usually be connected to each other (“bridged”) to create a connection between two Althea nodes.

End user node

This is a node that is mostly used by someone to buy internet access, rather than selling it. Any end user node can become an relay node by connecting it to another node that doesn’t have internet and selling it some internet.

Gateway Node

Gateway nodes sell internet bandwidth into Althea networks. Any node can become a gateway node if it is connected to the internet. However, every network will need at least one gateway connected to a commercial-grade internet connection, or “backhaul”.

Relay Node

Relay nodes earn money selling internet to other Althea nodes, by forwarding packets through the network. Any Althea node can become an relay node, simply by connecting it to another node that needs internet.

Internet Backbone

Data routes between the largest computer networks and core routers on the Internet. These data routes are hosted by commercial, government, academic and other high-capacity network centers. They operate Internet exchange points and network access points that exchange Internet traffic between countries and continents.

Outdoor Wifi Antenna

An outdoor wifi antenna can send internet signals long distances at high speeds. It uses most of the same radio technology that is used by indoor wifi, but focuses the signal into a tight and powerful beam. These can cost from $50-$2000 depending on the speed and range. Althea does not make this equipment, but Althea routers can connect to any of them. We recommend certain models for people starting out.

Sector Antenna

This is an outdoor antenna with a wider beam that can connect to 10-60 other antennas at once. These are ideal for Althea nodes which will be selling to a large number of other nodes, like the gateways in Clatskanie or Medellin.

Local Althea network

An Althea network will have at least one gateway node, a large number of end user nodes, and larger relay nodes which relay the signal to nodes who are not able to connect to the gateway(s) directly. Multiple networks can operate in the same area, and can even run on the same physical equipment.

Network Organizer

Althea network Organizers set up and manage Althea networks. While they may start out as leaders, it’s important to note that no one is the “boss” of an Althea network, since the equipment in the network is owned by the people using it. However, network organizers play an important role in helping people use the equipment and receive a monthly network subscription fee from every piece of equipment on their network.


WISP stands for Wireless ISP. Wireless ISPs have been around for about 15 years, ever since high speed outdoor wifi antennas became available. They have been picking up even more steam as the equipment gets better. There are several differences between an Althea network and a WISP: