Jeff Vail recently wrote a good article on how small, fairly equal agents can get the benefits of a large, efficient network without the sacrifices that would be necessary in adopting a hub-and-spoke model.
He developed the idea mostly in the context of how intentional communities might relate to one another, but intends it to be more general than that: for instance, it would also apply to a hypothetical mesh-networked ISP/voice service of the sort I mentioned in a recent thread on the General Homesteading forum.
"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men. They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.