As you all know IP indicates your location in the internet. Although end devices can move and relocate, routers (the backbone of the internet) are static. Thus, they keep meaningful routing and forwarding tables and make the internet work.

My question is, is there such a concept like a mobile router? Its location changes, so its adjacent routers and clients change as well, as it moves. If there is such a thing, can you refer me to papers/ articles/ books and so on...

  • 1
    Yes, they exist, but they’re not backbone routers. They are used in vehicles that have multiple connections and multiple hosts, like police/fire vehicles, busses, etc.
    – Ron Trunk
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 13:38
  • "routers (the backbone of the internet) are static." The Internet routers run a dynamic routing protocol, so they can dynamically respond to network changes. The Internet was designed to automatically reroute traffic in the case of damage (being funded by the DoD, nuclear war).
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 1:42
  • "As you all know IP indicates your location in the internet." Have you heard of anycast?
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 2:06

2 Answers 2


As you all know IP indicates your location in the internet.

So where is ?! According to cogents looking glass it's apparently less than a millisecond from london and less than 2 milliseconds from new york. But the minimum physically possible ping time between london and new york is around 37 milliseconds. What is going on?!

All the Internet really knows about a block of IP addresses is a series of possible routes for getting there. The routers pick one based on a set of critera and pass the packet along. So google advertise from many locations around the world and then once it gets inside google's network it gets routed to a local DNS server cluster.

Similarly there would be nothing preventing an ISP advertising a block of addresses from many locations around the world and then routing either individual IPs or sub-blocks within their network to devices in many different locations around the world.

My question is, is there such a concept like a mobile router?

There are various things.

There are devices that route IP packets between stub networks and a cellular network, usually with NAT. Most smartphones offer the option of doing this and there are also dedicated devices for the task. These are what you will find if you google "mobile router". However such devices generally only have static routes or maybe a delegated IPv6 prefix, they don't get involved in routing protocols.

There has been a bunch of research on "mobile ad-hoc networks". That is building networks where a whole bunch of mobile devices work together to route data over longer distances than their individual radios can cover.

A dream of many anarchists has been to create an ad-hoc network that can connect people across a city without having to buy services from "the man" or build an organised hierarchy.

But scalability of such networks is a massive problem. As the number of nodes get higher routing overheads grow with them. As the area and hence the number of hops in the average communication grows the effective bandwidth available per user shrinks. Choosing the best route becomes a very hard problem. Reliability drops with hop count, especially if the routers are moving such that routing tables may be out of date by the time you get them.


The thing that makes most routers static is the localized uplink using landlines. These localized uplink are required for high-speed and high-volume connectivity.

However, there are also a lot of (small-ish) 3G/4G routers around, using a mobile network as uplink - many of these routers are mobile themselves. Also, quite a few medium-sized networks are around on board of trains, planes and ships.

Technically, there's no reason mobile routers are limited to simple hotspots and such, except for the speed/volume problem and associated cost.

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