Tag Archive: Community Connectivity



The Bangladeshi mobile operator Grameenphone (of Telenor Group) has set up more than 500 Community Information Centers (CICs) across the country, offering low-rate, but high-speed voice, data and other communication services to previously unconnected people.

Set up with technical assistance from the GSM Association in 2006, Grameenphone CICs are equipped with a minimum of a computer, a printer, a scanner, a webcam and an EDGE-enabled modem to access the Internet. The CICs provide high speed Internet access in rural areas, where the nearest Internet facilities would otherwise be at least 20-30 miles away. The centres are extending connectivity to those who have no alternative access to communication technologies and to those with little to spend on such services.

The CICs are designed to be run independently as small businesses by local entrepreneurs. The centres are set up in selected rural areas around the country, and people pay a small fee to access email or Web pages. Together with partners, Grameenphone also provides microcredit if needed and trains the entrepreneurs so that they become aware of the full potential of their business.

(Source: Telenor)

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Digicel, in partnership with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, is starting a new initiative which will deliver broadband internet service for free to communities and schools across the twin-island nation.

The initiative – entitled “Technology for Communication, Education and Empowerment” – is a joint initiative between Digicel and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and will use Wi-Fi technology to bring Broadband Internet into 3,000 homes across the communities of Grays-Green, Yorks, and Lower Gambles, as well as more than 5,000 secondary school students.

Digicel is partnering with the government to provide community computer access centres in 12 secondary schools, which will include the physical infrastructure as well as the furniture and air-conditioning. Each of these community access centres will accommodate at least 20 students. The initiative will significantly increase the number of households with regular access to the Internet as schools, homes, and villages get connected for the first time.

(Source: Caribarena Antigua)

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Peruvians Access Public Services with a Few Simple Clicks


In cities and villages across Peru, basic information that was once nearly impossible to obtain – about municipal budgets, public services and elections – is now accessible through a few simple clicks of a computer keyboard. Comun@s, which stands for Municipal Communication at Your Service in Spanish, is a project designed by AED and implemented in cooperation with USAID and the government of Peru to bring more transparency and public accountability to municipal government through information and communication technology.

AED teams based in Peru travel to the municipalities to install computer equipment located in public kiosks, called Modulos Ciudadanos, and provide training on how to use them, including how the community can tap into new online systems established by Peru’s government. In addition, AED helps local officials create municipal Web pages with useful information for their citizens. The project provides training on the importance of transparency to officials and residents in 84 municipalities that are scattered across seven regions of the country.

“Through this project, people can actually approach their government, become involved in their government and feel empowered to take part in their government,” said Maria Victoria Pascual, AED’s chief of party in Peru. “They become a part of the future of their community.”

Information on the modules is available in three of Peru’s languages—Spanish, as well as Quechuan and Ashaninka. The most popular feature so far, Pascual says, provides users with information on how to obtain basic documents, such as driver’s licenses, national identification cards, and marriage certificates—and what those documents should cost, so that people trying to buy them aren’t taken advantage of at the local level.

(Source:AED)

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Nepal Wireless Project — tale of an ambitious leader


Connectivity and quality access to ICTs is essential for survival in this era of digital revolution. Mahabir Pun foresaw this in 1997, when due to his immense efforts his mountain village of Nangi in Nepal first embraced computers. A simplistic website connected his village to the digital world bringing along a large number of foreign volunteers to support his cause. The project had a humble beginning with donations of used computers from Australia, Singapore and Malaysia and several design topologies for wireless connectivity being tested, details here (all with help of volunteers). The computer was assembled into a wooden box integrating the discrete components. This was the beginning of digital age for students in Nepal.

By now, his initiative has evolved into Nepal Wireless Networking Project which has connected around 42 villages in rural Nepal through wireless technologies, creating new opportunities of education, agriculture, Tele-medicine and E-commerce for the villagers providing them with an opportunity to trade goods from live yaks to handicrafts. Numerous institutions and technology firms such as the Donald Strauss Foundation, the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology at George Mason University, the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), smartBridges, Pacific Wireless, and others provided support in this endeavor.

Nepal wireless project is working with Open Learning Exchange for developing educational content in line of the national curricula. The main goal is to use the network for live teleteaching transmitted from one school to other schools in remote areas to overcome the shortage of quality teachers. Another aim of project is to link the health workers to the doctors and even doctors directly to the patients.

“We are using the wireless network for health, providing telemedicine services to the remote villages,” said Mr Pun.

The project is also helping establish communication centres in the Villages to enable the villagers to have VOIP calls for communication to other villages. The project has been replicated under the name of Makawanpur wireless networking project. A detailed report of the project is available here. The vision of Mahabir has inspired many people and now Himanchal Education Foundation is working to use the school as a community centre. Connected school through the wireless project would mean a connected community through connected school.

Drive by WI-FI: internet access for remote villages


In many parts of the developing world it is too expensive to lay the fibers and copper cable to deliver a standard internet connection. Wireless technologies also do not reach many remote places. Under ‘United Villages’ initiative, founded by Amir Alexander Hasson, vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi are being used to deliver web content to remote rural villages in the developing world. In rural India and parts of Cambodia, Rwanda, Costa Rica, Paraguay, the vehicles offer web content to computers with no internet connection.

The buses and a fleet of motorcycles update their pages in cities before visiting the hard-to-reach communities. The offline search system works in a very simplistic way: users search through a standard non-real time browser. Motorcycle drives by and collects all the searches and takes them to the internet connection which sends them to ‘United Villages’ server. The server conducts search, takes out information from top results and links, edits unnecessary ads and send the compressed information back to the users.

"internet on motor cycle"In Cambodia, this approach is serving many rural villages. The Internet Village Motoman was launched for 15 solar-powered village schools, telemedicine clinics, and the governor’s office in Ratanakiri, a remote province of Cambodia, using five Honda motorcycles equipped with mobile access points and a satellite uplink. The network was implemented for American Assistance for Cambodia, which is funded by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, and operates over 200 rural schools. They had computers and solar panels in all these schools, and teachers teaching English on computers, but no Internet. The teachers learned how to do e-mail, and then they taught the students, and then that got shared with the rest of the village. Telemedicine clinics held by Operation Village Health, give patients access to physicians in Boston, Massachusetts. The patients’ information including digital photographs is transferred to physicians in Boston via satellite. So, those communities are able to do e-mails, offline Web searches and tele-medicine through this novel approach.

Link for some more information about this project.

Link for interview of Amir Alexander Hasson with Gartner

Sources: BBC news, press release American Assistance Cambodia, Internet Village Motoman network

Intel RCP to bring connectivity to remote areas


The Intel Rural Connectivity Platform (RCP) is a low cost, low power, low touch long-range Wi-Fi solution designed to bring connectivity to remote areas. The technology behind this research was developed by personnel in the Intel Research Berkeley lab. It is a wireless long distance back hauls solution that operates on non licensed spectrums to provide the perfect product for emerging markets.

“It is an appealing way to connect remote areas that otherwise would go without the Internet”, says  Jeff Galinovsky, a senior platform manager at Intel. “Wireless satellite connections are expensive and it’s impractical to wire up some villages in Asian and African countries. The rural connectivity platform (RCP), will be helpful to computer-equipped students in poor countries. And the data rates are high enough–up to about 6.5 megabits per second–that the connection could be used for video conferencing and tele-medicine, he says.

"Intel RCP"The demo that was presented at the Berkeley Lab open house had two antenna transmitting video via WI-FI connection. One of the antennas was on top of the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at the UC Berkeley campus which is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away from the lab in downtown Berkeley.

Already, Intel has installed and tested the hardware in India, Panama, Vietnam, and South Africa. One of the research projects connected rural villages in India with the Aravind Eye clinic to provide medical eye exams via the wireless antenna relay system. In Panama, it is bringing the internet to a remote village in the rain forest.

More details can be found in RCP product brief and this video.

Sources: Intel blog, Technology review

e-Sri Lanka and ICT for All


e-Sri Lanka is the project of  government of Sri Lanka to provide access to “diverse and unrestrained” information and communication sources in a bid to strengthen democracy, peace process, quality of life and social and economic development. “Nanasala Project” refers to several models of tele-centres established all across Sri Lanka for provision of ICT based services. Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) has set up different types of Nansalas (Knowledge centers) with regards to the services being provided.

[Image:Colombo Fort Railway Station Nansala]

Rural Knowledge Nansalas (Vishwa Denuma Gamata or global knowledge to village) include multi-service ICT centers providing internet, telephone, fax, computer training classes and other services for socio-economic development and community empowerment

E-library Nansala (community model) is the smaller version of the rural knowledge where few free and few paid services are provided. CBTs, books and lots of periodicals for students of all ages. The e-library concept has also been successfully evolved into mobile e-library which has solar panels on roof powering four laptops and travelling from schools to schools and village to village disseminating information to children, youth and local farmers.

Distance and e-Learning centers (DELs) provide networking facilities like Videocon, Mulitmedia and computer labs etc for connectivity to local and global development learning networks. DELs are specifically aimed at increasing skill level of the people at the suburban areas. [Image: E-learning Centre (above-right)]

Tsunami Camp Nansalas were the special types of kiosks setup in Tsunami affected areas providing information on health, education and similar content in local languages free of cost. “Tsunami Voices” database maintained records of Tsunami victims, their belongings, losses, diseases etc which was helpful in rehabilitation process. ICTA provided ICT training and vocational training to youth and got them involved in volunteer activities for making these nansalas permanent.

These Nansalas have made Sri Lanka stand tall in IT world, by empowering the disabled through ICTs for earning their livelihood and supporting the other disabled through effective use of ICTs. They have provided equal opportunities for the visually impaired people too. [Image (above-left) Pushpa Rekha: The Nansala Operator]

These Nansalas have also empowered the women by providing them with education, employment and strong position in local communities. Several of the Nansala operators are women.


Counseling for a member of local handicapped community (right)

School and Community Connectivity Initiatives in Asia Pacific Region


Connectivity and quality access to ICTs is essential for survival in this era of digital revolution. Mahabir Pun foresaw this in 1997, when due to his immense efforts his mountain village of Nangi in Nepal first embraced computers. By now, his initiative has evolved into Nepal Wireless Networking Project which has connected around 22 villages in rural Nepal through wireless technologies, creating new opportunities of education, agriculture, Tele-medicine and E-commerce for the villagers. In many parts of the developing world, it is still difficult to provide connectivity either through fixed infrastructure or wireless technologies.An innovative solution  United Villages pioneered  by Amir Alexander Hasson provides people in such rural areas of India, Cambodia asynchronous drive-by Wi-Fi through buses which deliver web content to the computers which have otherwise no direct connection to internet.

Provision of funds and required equipment is crucial for connectivity whether through sole government assistance or in partnership with private sector. Computer Technologies for Schools (CFTS) Project in Australia, Setting up of IT village and computer labs in Bangladesh are instances of government/ local assistance. Under E-gram Vishwagram Project, Gujarat Government (India) partnered with Bharty Airtel to connect panchayats and Common Service Centers (CSCs) across 13716 villages in the state. Now technology market leaders like Google, Microsoft, Intel and Cisco have also agreed to aid the project. OLPC is collaborating with many state governments in Asia Pacific region to provide low cost, connected laptops to schools in rural or underserved areas. Through OLPC India, two government organizations and one private-sector entity placed a 250,000 XO laptop order which will be distributed 1500 schools. Altai Technologies Limited provided wireless connectivity support to OLPC charity project in Bhutan.

Technology service providers companies have been collaborating with governments, other companies and international organizations in serving the communities’ connectivity needs. Intel (r) Rural Connectivity Platform is a low cost solution which promises to provide efficient connectivity even in remote mountainous or rough hilly areas. Data Stream Technology (DST) Group ,Ericsson collaboration is going  to provide 4000 students in four schools of Brunei high speed broadband connectivity. Nokia Siemens network has joined ITU’s Connecting villages initiative and initially they aim to connect villages in island countries of pacific region through its village connection program.

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