Decentralized network topologies were introduced in the On Distributed Communications Paul Baran’s 1962 seminal Work* providing the foundations to design the Internet and the Web with no single point of control and failure. However, these basics foundations are at odds with centralized powers controlling the Web.

With Web Monopolies, the fundamental users’ freedom to select whom to trust their data to and select which Services to be consumed are curtailed. Users are forced to consume Services from the same organization in order to communicate or share any kind of resource with each other. The data that is generated from the Service consumption as well as a user’s own identity, are managed by the very same Service provider, giving no choice to users as to whom to trust. The same problem pattern applies to communication between humans and things (Internet of Things). However, the scale and the complexity of the problem for IoT communications is much higher.

Usually these kinds of problems are addressed with strongly regulated and standardized services as the ones delivered by Telecommunication operators including GSMA mobile telephony and SMS text messaging. But reaching agreements on standards is a very complex activity. Standards and rules in general (including regulating policies) in a fast moving area as the Web, constrain stakeholders freedom to innovate with alternative technologies or processes.

In such complex and contradictory environment, Decentralized Communications addresses the following two main challenges:

  • How to deliver innovative communication services without breaking cross-domain interoperability

  • How to have the right balance between privacy and freedom to select who to trust, without slowing down Web innovation pace

The reTHINK Framework specifies and builds a reference implementation of Decentralized Communications which enables natively inter-operable communication services that are able to trustfully use peer to peer connections without having to use central authorities or services. Decentralized Communications are inherently inter-operable without standard protocols by using the Protocol on-the-fly concept, where the most appropriate protocol stack to be used, is selected and instantiated at run-time.