Re: [GKD] Non-profit Local Wireless Networks

2002-05-21 Thread Imran Rasheed

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 and  (b) British
Wavelength Digital

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 

Re: [GKD] Non-profit Local Wireless Networks

2002-05-20 Thread Fantsuam

Fantsuam Foundation is collaborating with Kabissa to provide email and internet services for
Not-for-Profit organizations (including tertiary educational and health
institutions) in Nigeria with particular interest in those operating in
rural communities where wireless access appears the most viable
option. We are also currently working with another group to develop a
Linux server that is robust enough for use over poor telephone
connections. We have heard of the use of 802.11 technology for
rural networks, but we are yet to have an experience of it.

We will therefore like to participate in this initiative. Please keep us
informed and involved. Thanks.

John Dada

Programs Director
Fantsuam Foundation (
Winners of the first Hafkin Africa Prize for 2001
Bayanloco, Adjacent LEA Primary School,
PO Box 58
Kafanchan. NIGERIA
Nigeria Charity Reg No KDS/YC/99/2897
tel 00881631447772
UK Charities Commission, Reg Charity No 1078142
Working in partnership with women in rural communities to facilitate
access to microcredit and ICT services for health and education.

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Re: [GKD] Non-profit Local Wireless Networks

2002-05-15 Thread Venkatesh \(Venky\) Hariharan

I am with Media Lab Asia ( and we are exploring the
use of 802.11 technology for rural networks. However, we envisage these
as small village telcos that will be set up by rural entrepreneurs.
Decades of experience with Universal Service Obligation etc makes it
clear that the big telcos are not be interested in providing
telecommunications to rural markets. I recently met someone from
Malaysia who said that his country has around $300 million earmarked for
USO but there has been little progress till date. The story in India is
also the same.

A better alternative may be to follow the growth of cable networks in
India. Most cable networks in India were set up by small local
entrepreneurs. Since cable networks were unregulated, they grew at an
astonishing rate and soon outnumbered the number of telephone
connections in India! It may not be possible to replicate this success
in the telco sector which is far more regulated than the cable networks
in India but there is a good chance that local entrepreneurs would be
far more interested in providing telco services in rural areas than the
big telecom companies. This may be a win-win for everyone -- small
entrepreneurs, large telecos and national governments -- because these
village telcos may most likely operate their services under franchise
from a larger teleco, thus providing connectivty to the disconnected,
additional revenues to larger telecos and help governments fulfill their
USO dreams.

Another advantage of this bottoms-up approach is that it creates a lot
of employment opportunities in rural areas. The example of India's
Public Call Offices (PCOs) is another good example that comes to mind.
These manned PCOs created a lot of employment in rural areas and brought
telecommunications closer to the rural masses. These PCOs are also
popular in urban areas and the manner in which these yellow and black
signs have sprouted up all over India in the last ten years has been eye

I look forward to hearing from other members on this list on this
subject. I am particularly interested in hearing if others on this list
have tried to apply 802.11 technology for rural connectivity and their
experiences so far.


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