Sydney, Sept 1 (ANI): Adelaide's Flinders University is developing a mobile phone communications system that won't need towers.
The Serval Project was inspired by the 2010 Haiti earthquake in which the phone network crashed as infrastructure went down.
Creator Paul Gardner-Stephen said the earthquake showed the lack of resilience in a communications system that relied on infrastructure.
"If the towers are knocked out, mobile phone handsets become useless lumps of plastic in our hands," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.
"The Serval Project has proven that there is no reason for that to be the case," he stated.
The Serval system allows mobile phones to communicate with each other to create a virtual network where no network cover exists.
In Australia it could allow people travelling in the outback to call each other for free.
It could also provide a limited mobile phone network for remote communities.
Dr Gardner-Stephen has just won a 400,000-dollar fellowship from the Shuttleworth Foundation to take the technology of a proven concept to the product stage.
He expects to have free software available to the public within 12 months. (ANI)