Dear GKD Members,
LEARN Foundation is implementing a Wireless Broadband project connecting
7 rural ecosystems in the north eastern part of Bangladesh in the
districts of Sylhet and Sunamganj.
The technology uses Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) between the
Base Unit (BU) -in Sylhet town- and the Remote Bridge (RB) units,
the 7 rural ecosystems about 50 kms in all directions, operating at 2.4
GHz at the ISM free band. From the RB backbone, 802.11b radios, both
DSSS and Frequency Hopping are being tested.
The hub of these rural ecosystems (each comprising 14-20 villages,
50,000 population, 10 sq km) are the MCNs (Micro Community Nodes)
which links to rural schools LEARN IT training centers adjacent to
these schools. The remote bridge units (RBs) are being configured around
towers on top of these schools. From the RBs, the last mile proceeds via
three possible access solutions to the end users:
(1) drop down to standard Ethernet LAN straight to the class rooms,
cyber cafes,computer labs, school office, etc - this is the education
pipe. LEARN joint ventures with SDNP (Sustainable Development Networking
Programme), a UNDP supported project, as its regional node partner to
support this pipe for rural schools. This is the not for profit
(2) Through RAS (remote Access server) PABX, modems copper wires
extend 2 km to various rural shops, markets, pharmacies or individual
users for delivering email, fax, browsing, SMS, Internet telephony,
telemedicine, software and rural e-commerce, and
(3) use 802.11b compliant radio access devices to other clients within
0-30 km from the RB radio backbone. This would be used where (1) and (2)
are, for any reason, not applicable or could be used in addition to (1)
(2). This is also an income generating pipe or an education pipe
depending on where the client radios are located. The attached file
shows the ecosystem picture, the 802.11b radios, and the applications
being discussed with the local Alvarion representatives.
We are testing out two systems side by side in the pilot project: (a)
Israel based Breezecom Alvarion www.alvarion.com and (b) British
Wavelength Digital www.wavelength-digital.com
Wavelength Digital systems are in use under similar structure using
rural schools as centers by the Initiative Foundation in a project
located in a small town called Sergiev Posad, about 100km from Moscow,
The LEARN project is configured in two divisions: (1) LEARNNET which
comprise the BU, operate and manage the network and distribute
bandwidth to the various remote RBs. LEARNNET buys bandwidth and sells
it to the remote units. (2) The MCN division- are the remote units -
which would buy the bandwidth from LEARN NET and distribute to users
within the ecosystems.
LEARNNET would use SDNP's DDN link to an ISP gateway in Dhaka but
eventually would set up it's own Internet gateway in Sylhet.
When linked to a VSAT Gateway and Satellite Space Segment to an internet
portal, the technology allows the building of telephony-cum-internet
service capable wide area networks in Zero-Infrastructure situations -
that is, the network can be successfully implemented when it is needed,
where it is needed without any prior basic infrastructure being present.
During the pilot project (12 months), both the divisions operate under
the legal umbrella (auspices) of the LEARN Foundation within an
agreement signed by all stakeholders.
There are four stakeholder groups: (1) The rural IT student group called
TROJANS, 200 of them spread over the 7 ecosystem (2) The IT professional
groups called BULLS (3) The funding group, corporate, individuals, IT
companies, etc called ANGELS and (4) the Foundation. The Angels fund the
entire process through the Foundation - the IT training program, setting
up the infrastructure finally incubating the business models.
At the end of the pilot phase, LEARN NET division, along with all other
MCN units, are to be converted to private limited companies by the
stakeholders. LEARN Foundation, like any other stake holder, would then
be a shareholder in these companies with representation in the boards.
Management to be handed over to these companies by the Foundation. The
income from LEARN's share in the companies are to be ploughed back into
education IT training in new ecosystems.
All day to day operations are carried out by the Trojans under
supervision of the Bulls and peer support from the Angels and the
The Trojans are a special breed of rural teenagers. They are trained
(over 4 years ) in Internet technologies, data communication, software,
multimedia business processes. A Trojan's mental vision scans the
rural landscape in radically different ways. For example, a rural hut
will be read as WCP (Wireless Client Point) instead of mud and straw, a
concrete building would read as WSP ( Wireless service point), a rich
farmer as an e-CRM target , a village pharmacy as a TMDP Telemedicine
storage delivery point) and a