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Wireless Networking Communications The Internet Hardware

First Free Wireless Link Between Europe And Africa 143

Paul Bawon writes "A company called PSAND have just installed a wireless link between Tarifa in Spain and Tangiers in Morocco, thus linking the African and European continents together with a free wireless link. The link went across the Straits of Gibraltar with a total distance of 32 km over the sea. Images can be found here and notes from the work can be found here."
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First Free Wireless Link Between Europe And Africa

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  • Cool... (Score:5, Funny)

    by miroth ( 611718 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:20AM (#9506816)
    Images of a wireless connection? I gotta see this.
    • I'd like to see it, but the melted server on the other end won't let me, thanks to our heroes.
    • Re:Cool... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A small correction: I think that the images are of the apparatus used for the wireless connection, not images of the medium itself. For wireless, the medium would probably be air, and I do not think that an image of air would be that interesting:) LOL

      PS. I cannot get to the images right now. I think that the links are broken, because the browser is blocking when I click on the "Images can be found here" link, so I could not confirm that the images really show the apparatus.
      • For wireless, the medium would probably be air
        So they did a wireless connection using sound waves?
        • So they did a wireless connection using sound waves? You mean like yelling at somone?


    • I suppose information-bearing lasers over that distance aren't practical, but it sure could make for pretty pictures.
    • ....taken with a lens-less camera by a guy with no hands. Creepy.
    • The original posting is somewhat inaccurate. It must be pointed out that the link between Europe and Africa was done as a collaborative project involving many people from Europe and Africa, not just Psand, who merely helped. The project is called Transacciones / Fadaiat 2004, an arts / technolgy / social convention dealing with issues surrounding the Straits of Gibraltar, especially immigration. The link was intended to be a short term link to allow participators from both continents to take part, share ide
  • Nice. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ( 782137 ) <> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:21AM (#9506824) Homepage Journal
    The Internet is one thing that could benefit education in poor African countries a great deal, allowing free access to information. This is just one more step in fully linking up Africa.
    • Re:Nice. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 955301 ( 209856 )
      Except that this is to Morocco, not the "poor African countries". It's more symbolic than anything else. Morocco is about as culturally backwards as any other Islamic dominated country bucking outside influence (not just Western, but all). Women are regarded as cattle, the religious brainwashing begins at 5am via loudspeaker while your sleeping.

      Wake me when there is a Satellite feed directly to the "poor African countries" of which you speak. Which, btw, are ON THE OTHER SIDE OF A VERY BIG DESERT! I hope b
    • Re:Nice. (Score:5, Informative)

      by CvD ( 94050 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:39AM (#9507026) Homepage Journal
      There is a huge loop of fiber going all the way around Africa that was put there during the dotcom boom by a company called Africa One. Apparently it is mostly dark, because no one can pay to use it:

      See here for a large pic [].

      More info:
      Wired News []
      Lucent []
      Some interview []

      So this is interesting for wireless sake, but not interesting for the sake of Internet connectivity in Africa. This fiber loop needs to be put to use to enable cheap Internet in Africa. Many Internet connections are still done by satellite, which is expensive and slow.
      • How about cheap food in Africa, before cheap internet? After all, many people in Africa are hungry, few are wondering what geeks think about star trek.
        • How about cheap food in Africa, before cheap internet? After all, many people in Africa are hungry, few are wondering what geeks think about star trek.

          Agreed, but it's better to teach a man how to fish than to give him the fish.
          Getting Africa online will increase its economy in a way you can't imagine. Sending food and money (for food and weapons) to a Third World country hasn't been much of a help over the last couple of decades, it's time to get these countries on their own feet.
          • When you're going to be dead in 3 days from starvation, trickle-down economics means jack. Sure, teaching someone to fish is better than feeding them, but again, if they're on the brink of death, Fishing 101 isn't going to help.

            Getting Africa online won't do anything for the starvation. Opressive governments and corrupt beaurocrats means any aid or money going to Africa is quickly syphoned off into their pockets. Giving them free porn while they do it isn't helping the millions of Africans slowly dying

        • How about changing African governments so they are less corrupt and more business-friendly so people can get good jobs and afford food and Internet?
          • You can only do an unprovoked regime-change on a soverign country if that country has significant oil deposits.
          • And internet access would help that how? Bearing in mind most people don't even have mains electricity, let alone a computer. Sheesh. People are dying now. Internet isn't going to help anyone out of that.
        • Cheap food in Africa is a non-trivial political problem. And one could argue that the best way to help people in Zimbabwe to get cheap food is to help open up discourse in the country.
          • And one could argue the best way to help people in Zimbabwe is to jump around on one leg shouting "I am the food master!" - it doesn't mean it would work. Political change doesn't instantly give food to people, and it doesn't happen in an instant. People are dying now. Cheap pr0n and access to hotmail aren't going to feed them.
      • Could you not find any links to articles which said things like "Africa ONE has completed..."? Because all of your "More info" links say things like "The Africa ONE project will create...". I could find no proof that it actually was ever completed, or even started, so the fiber is possibly very dark indeed.

        I was able to find links about this from 1995 [] 1998 [] 1999 []. So it's not like this was necessarily imminent just because Wired was writing about it. says "No web site is configured at t
      • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:37PM (#9514489) Journal
        Apparently it is mostly dark, because no one can pay to use it

        Most fiber in a bundle is SUPPOSED to be dark at this point. To lay less than a bunch more than you initially need is incredibly pound-foolish in the long run - and even the short run.

        Nearly all the cost of a fiber run is laying the cable - whether digging a trench around a continent or paying it out on the ocean floor. The incremental cost of adding fibers to the bundle, as a percentage of the cost of laying the bundle, is miniscule.

        The amount of data that can be carried by a single pair of fibers is enormous. So one pair can probably handle all you can sell in the first few years. And even in that one pair, half of it is proably spare - reserved for routing around breaks by slinging the data the other way around the loop. So if you look at the contacted bandwidth versus the fiber's bandwidth, even your one "lit" fiber looks "half-dark".

        But you don't just lay a pair of fibers. You need spares even initially. (Else what do you do if a fiber breaks? Dig/dredge up the run to replace it? Or use the spare fiber.) So now even with one set of spares you've doubled your capacity and not used any of the "extra". 75% "dark" and looking worse.

        But what happens a couple years down the road when your capacity is all contracted out and you need more? If you laid down extra fibers you just light 'em up. If you didn't, you need to DIG ANOTHER TRENCH AROUND THE CONTNENT to lay more.

        So of COURSE you spent a few percent extra, and laid maybe 20 or 50 or 100 times as many fibers as you initially need. You don't EVER want to dig that trench again.

        But do you light 'em up now? Of COURSE not! The incremental cost of LAYING extra fibers is tiny. But the incremental cost of LIGHTING more is nearly the same as lighting the first ones. And every year the equipment gets cheaper and can push more data through the fibers (though not enough more to eliminate the need to light more fibers eventually). The longer you wait to light them, the more bandwidth bang for your buck - so you delay deploying the BOXES as long as possible.

        Thus, if your planners had any savvy, nearly ALL your fibers are dark, and will be for decades.

        But some clueless "analysts" assume that the cost of laying fiber is in direct proportion to the amount of fiber laid. So they look at how much got laid, and how much is currently lit. And they trumpet the "dark fiber" "problem" to the world, convincing investers that the far-seeing planners who laid it have wasted their investors' money. Oh HORRORS!

        In fact, the people (if any) who wasted their investors' money (at least in the fiber laying process) are the ones who spent nearly as much to only lay enough fibers to handle the immediate needs.

        The collapse of the long-haul market was due mainly to the fact that EVERYBODY laid fibers, assuming they could each get a big chunk of the market. Too many suppliers led to a price war that took most of 'em down.

        But the "dark fiber problem" scare stories provided a bit extra push, sucking needed next-stage investment out of some companies that might have made it otherwise and leading to their demise.

        As a result of this scaremongering we'll get more consolidation, and higher prices, than we otherwise would gotten without their panic.
    • Re:Nice. (Score:3, Interesting)

      free access to information

      TANSTAAFL. Mark my words, this connection will not go unpaid for -- otherwise why do it in the first place?
    • First and foremost, i don't think their wireless connection exactly covered very much of morocco. Africa is the second largest continent in the world. No one has provided North America with free internet yet, I'm not sure how someone would go about transmitting an internet connection for all of africa.
      Besides the uneducated africans aren't the ones with computers. Nor are they the litterate members of teh population. Not to mention the fact that nothing on the internet (except mayb obscure linux ports) is
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:22AM (#9506839) Journal
    Wonderful! With this new cross-continental wireless connection, those poor, hapless widows of deposed and assassinated heads of the Nigerian government and industry can all the more easily appeal for help in moving their vast sums of wealth into foreign bank accounts!
  • Images can be found here

    Not anymore. *insert joke about server being hosted via wireless link* *insert joke about african vs european swallows and their airspeed velocity using IP over avian carrier*

  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:22AM (#9506845) Homepage
    This one is not a distance record, but it did span continents and is an interesting article. Here's an article [] from last year about longer distances, albeit with higher power gear.

    The ham radio record for 2.4 GHz is a lot longer, but it's a great start. Here are some results [] from Region 1, Europe, including Earth-Moon-Earth.

    Here's the site for the San Bernadino Microwave Society (Hams). [] They've been doing this sort of thing for ages.

    "Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain
    • EME would be a great trick to use if only the damn Moon would stay still! ;)

      Also the ping would be a little high.

      It's a shame they didn't test with data too to see what the baud-rate capability was (or if they did they don't give results).
  • Now if only someone could do the same for Europe and America.
    There's been a lot of hurt, a lot of mean things have been said, but that's nothing a couple of million FREE fragfests couldn't patch up right? Right?

    Maybe via Iceland, the Azores? Newfoundland?

    Before you start, satellite isn't free. I know. I get Sky.
  • ....did this in 1901 between europe and america, and it took them 103 years to do it over 1/1000th the distance?

    Oh, you meant wireless TCP/IP? Why didn't you say so.

    • *Oh, you meant wireless TCP/IP? Why didn't you say so.*

      because this is slashdot! it would be so much more work to say that "first amateur wifi link between africa and europe"(Obviously tcp/ip has been transferred there before this by some wireless links..).
  • of a successful democracy is the free flow of information without government interference. I hope this is a good start for the continent. After all, there is no more free medium for the dissemination of information than the web. After all, why is China so scared of unfiltered access?
  • This is brilliant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:25AM (#9506876)
    Forget all the predictable comments about satellite links being cheaper, the bandwidth being a bit low for a trans-continental link, etc, this proves one thing:

    No matter how repressive a government becomes in its monitoring or control of internet technology, geeks the world over can use this project as a reference work: Don't like your internet strained by official censors? Just beam a link over the border to an open proxy.

    People like us can use this technology to open repressed populations up to communication.
  • by marnargulus ( 776948 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:28AM (#9506910)
    If you look at the picture closely you can see dozens of nerds with laptops boating around.
  • by nightsweat ( 604367 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:33AM (#9506970)
    I'm sure the wireless signal was then immediately hustled into a rug and kaftan shop.
  • Coool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by L3on ( 610722 )
    I great example of how regular 802.11 wireless is showing its strengths, however you all realize there are limits. Eventually we will depend on laser transmission of data due to the massive distances it can easily cover. Furthermore, I remember seeing another test when a group of people in the middle of the Moab desert made a record of something around 30 miles with a standard cisco card and a very odd homemade antenna which was made from fine metal mesh screen and wood in a pyramid shape. Does anyone else
    • Here it is. (Score:4, Informative)

      by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:41AM (#9507053)
      Does anyone else remember seeing that? I can't seem to find a link.

      Sure, here [] it is. Scroll down for pictures.
    • Lasers are _not_ a good medium for long range communication, especially a (fairly) low height ocean crossing. You quickly get into problems with fog and rain, not to mention passing ships if you aren't high enough. You can try to brute force the issue, and pump more power at the problem, but that means its more likely to be an eye hazard. The current technology used, called free space optics, is limited to ~1.5 miles. These are normally used to transmit Gigabit speed transmissions over relatively short
  • by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:40AM (#9507039)
    Packet Radio has been providing free digital links across the globe for decades. Nothing new about this..
    • HAM radio does not offer free communications across its bands. The number of things you CAN NOT do is such that a free and open network is immpossible.

      And before folks jump on the defensive of HAMS, go read the actual rules for HAMS, you will discover encryption is verboten as are mnay of the things we use to create open and free networks.

      If you think you can pull off an open and free network across the HAM bands then by all means go for it. In the attempt you will get to see that thte GOV and FCC are not
  • by p4ul13 ( 560810 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:47AM (#9507106) Homepage
    ... the sales figures for Pringles in Spain and Morocco have sky-rocketed.
  • For us non-metric system Americans
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Has anyone ever been to Tangiers? I wonder what they're going to do with this wireless link there. The place is a nest of drug dealers, thieves, prostitutes, and starving children. Hive of villainy and all that.

    The major industry is in trucking goods between North Africa and Europe via ferry.

    I spent a single night there a few years back, and vowed never to do so again.

    "You want to buy hashish? No? You CHICKEN? YOU YELLOW CHICKEN! I CUT YOU, CHICKEN!"

    *Gang of Dirty ~6 Year Old Children Run Up (a

  • Seems that the server is... well, a bit flakey.

    Anyone managed to grab content to a mirror?
  • So, now that the site is Slashdotted due to our insatiable hunger for these images, does that mean we just wiepd out the internet connection to an entire continent?

    Because that'd be cool. I mean, wrong... damn wrong.
  • by ElDuderino44137 ( 660751 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @10:15AM (#9507393)
    Hey There,

    My friend is in the Peace Corps in West Africa.

    I think they need more basic services first.
    Like power.

    I recently sent her a solar powered lantern...
    because she has no good way to read when the sun goes down.
    Previously having used candles.

    -- The Dude
    • I recently sent her a solar powered lantern... because she has no good way to read when the sun goes down.
      I'm not so sure this will solve her problems.
    • Morocco, especially the north, isn't exactly the ends of the earth. Sure, futhur south you've got problems, but morocco is a pretty 1st world country, relativly.
    • I recently put together some older laptops for distribution by a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. I received a great email from the end recipient, a Kenyan man named Jack. I've removed his full name for the sake of privacy.

      Dear ALL,

      Receive Warm Greetings from Kenya. My names are_________

      I want to sincrerely thank you all for your generous donation for development work in Africa, Kenya. All of you played various roles that have resulted to a product, IBM Laptop, which has reached me to support my de

  • For the love of GOD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DasBub ( 139460 ) <> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @10:23AM (#9507505) Homepage
    It's "TANGIER" not "TANGIERS".

    It's an old city, not a mobbed-up casino.

    And yes, I know I'm being extremely anal about this, but if we don't actively correct our mistakes we'll end up watching Survivor reruns and joining Oprah's book club.

    For shame!
  • and is it laden or unladen?
  • Is that they lose the connection every time a large ship passes through.
    • Re:The only problem (Score:3, Informative)

      by w1r3sp33d ( 593084 )
      I worked on a nine mile shoot last year going across a shipping channel. Remember that it is not like a laser, there is a cone of coverage going both directions called the fresnel zone. You must maintain at least 60% coverage in this zone to keep communications up ( check out l ) It is quite easy to calculate curvature of the earth, antenna height on both sides, distance between antennas, and finally how big a ship would have to be to block more than 40% o
  • Mirrors (Score:3, Informative)

    by adelayde ( 185757 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:13AM (#9508232) Homepage
    Photos : ml

    Unsuspecting server admin wipes sweat of brow.
  • by spacepleb ( 609323 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:16AM (#9508275)
    It must be pointed out that the link between Europe and Africa was done as a collaborative project involving many people from Europe and Africa, not just Psand, who merely helped. The project is called Transacciones / Fadaiat 2004, an arts / technolgy / social convention dealing with issues surrounding the Straits of Gibraltar, especially immigration. The link was intended to be a short term link to allow participators from both continents to take part, share ideas and create new allegiances. Please also note that the document which goes with it is rough notes written before attempting the link, and was never meant to be fully accurate.
  • Sales of Pringles chips go through the roof for a straight week in Africa... /nothin
  • So now all they need is a wireless link across the Sahara Desert.

    Why is connecting Morocco to Spain such a big deal? Am I missing something?
    • I guess it's a big deal because trying to connect two continents together where the two countries involved have many issues to do with illegal immigrantion and border control as well as terrotorial disputes is a little more complex from a social, political and logistical viewpoint than your average pair of two points in the same country.
  • Are they using a Pringles can as the antenna?
  • Um, so Spain and Morocco are connected. This doens't mean Europe is connected to Africa.

    This sounds silly, but if you ask anyone native to Morocco where their country is, they'll claim it's a "southern European" country. NOT Africa. At a gas station showing the African continent in the logo, I asked one local what the symbol was. He looked angry, and mumbled something about being in "extreme southern Europe" in reply.

    Funny story. Moroccans tend to be Arab / Bedouin in ethnicity, and REFUSE to be assoc
  • Is this really the biggest priority of the African continent? I take it AIDS, poverty, disease and famine are taken care of I fear that wi-fi will become just another abstract thing that you will have to have, like public bathrooms. I really don't see what these projects will actually do. Like 103 miles of wi-fi in New Mexico, whoopty fucking doo, and in rest stops, who cares? I go on trips to escape technology, not lug it with me.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman