What is a Peer to Peer (P2P) Messenger?

November 23, 2022
What is a Peer to Peer (P2P) Messenger?

What is a Peer to Peer (P2P) Messenger?

Peer to Peer (P2P) messengers rely on a different kind of network protocol than other mobile messaging apps. Instead of traveling through regular network infrastructure (routers, servers, etc), each message gets delivered via a series of “hops” between mobile phones, which create a network of their own.

Each of these phones is simultaneously a network endpoint (where the user may send or receive messages) and a network router (sending messages and file transfers on the way to the final destination). Each phone is a peer in the Peer to Peer network.

How are the messages physically transmitted?

There are several ways to send messages using Peer to Peer technology.

Method #1: Find the WiFi.

In this scenario, your message to a friend will go from your mobile, through your WiFi access point, to the telco hub, to your friend’s WiFi, and finally to your friend’s phone.

While messages are sent partly through the regular network infrastructure in this model, they bypass servers and rely on peers to store and forward messages.  

If your friend isn’t available (i.e. he’s offline, or his access to the network has been limited), the messenger will choose another peer which is closer to your friend and will send the message there.

This process is then repeated (or combined with Method #2) until the message reaches its destination.

Method #2: Get close to other phones.

Mobile phones in physical proximity can communicate with each other directly using “local radio” technologies such as Bluetooth and WiFi Direct. This works up to a distance of about 100 meters.

By chaining together such short-hop direct communications, P2P messengers can form large-scale P2P networks which are independent of regular network infrastructure.

Method #3: All of the above.

The third approach lies in combining the first two.

A P2P messenger can check whether or not network infrastructure is present. If it is, it will transport the message that way (Method #1). If not, the messenger will revert to local radio (Method #2).

If one phone in a shutdown situation manages to access regular network infrastructure for a few seconds, it can receive everyone’s messages (Method #1) and pass them along to other, physically close devices (Method #2) — significantly increasing the odds that more messages will get through.

How can I test a P2P messenger?

To try out the NewNode secure Peer to Peer messenger, click here to download and take full control of your messaging experience!

If you understand coding and want a peek under the hood, you are welcome to explore the NewNode protocol. It is a completely open source project, so feel free to study our code and use it for your own projects! The source code is on GitHub.

As a peer to peer messenger, we provide accessible and reliable messaging around the world. We hope that you will join us.

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