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Solar Wi-Fi To Bring Net to Developing Countries 162

JLavezzo writes " has an article today on a new wifi development organization: MIT and the UN have teamed up to provide kids living in the world's least developed nations $100 laptops, their 2 watts of juice provided by hand or foot crank. Cool, but - and this was one of Bill Gates' criticisms - what's a computer without internet access? Enter Green Wi-Fi, a non-profit that seeks to provide 'last mile internet access with nothing more than a single broadband internet connection, rooftops and the sun.' Their wi-fi access nodes, which consist of a small solar panel, a heavy-duty battery, and a router, can be linked together to extend one internet connection into a larger network. The two guys who started the company - Bruce Baikie and Marc Pomerleau - happen to be veterans of Sun Microsystems. Deployment is set to start in India at the end of this summer."
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Solar Wi-Fi To Bring Net to Developing Countries

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  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @09:03PM (#15843888)
    Its hard to believe that anyone who had actually visited some of the least developed countries could post something about computers and WiFi to help them out. When I was in Malawi for example, the people didn't know what electricity was. There was only one water spigot in the entire village, at the whitemans church. The only piece of technology they could recognize was my wristwatch, which they were in awe over. My $1000 digital camera? They couldn't even 'see' it: they had no reference as to what it was, might was well have been a rock.
    They dont even have shoes. These people's most valuable posessions are sticks. I'm not kidding. Sticks are fuel for cookfires. They walk all day with a hundred pound of sticks on their back, with no shoes, no roads.

    Now, these people cant read either. Can you not see how pretentious it is to expect them to value a laptop with WiFi when they are starving and can't read?
    Get them some shoes first. That will help them a lot more.

  • by Canadian_Daemon ( 642176 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @09:08PM (#15843909)
    please refer to any of the past OLPC post. These are not countries in extreme poverty. They have an infrastructure in plance. The projects are designed to break the cycle of poverty. Unless you teach these people to survive in a 21st century workplace, you can give them all the aid you want and it will not help. I repeat, BREAK THE CYCLE OF POVERTY, and the programs are not designed for countries with extreme poverty, but ones with an infrastructure in place
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:13PM (#15844143)
    I managed a huge wireless ISP using 802.11b, then later g as well, as well as 900MHz and 5.8Ghz gear. The "weird" problems all our competitors had, and you apparently had are all caused by not knowing what you are doing. Use quality components, including connectors and cable, and install them right and things will be great. Several of our wireless backbone links had better uptime than the fibre we used to connect our network to the internet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:49PM (#15844241)
    how many MORE books could you provide with 100 dollars

    How many books can you print for 100 dollars anyhow? About 200? Maybe 400? If you need to pay for copyrights, maybe 4. If it's an university level book, maybe 1 or 2.

    How many books are there on the Internet? (Hint: Project Gutenberg.)

    How about free university level course materials on the Internet (e.g.

    Of course, language skills present a hurdle.

    But if one out of a thousand people in a poor village strikes gold, it has a very real chance of boosting the economy measurably. Think GDP per capita for the place around 500 (e.g. Haiti) for a total gross product of 500 000. Now one guy really shines at something and starts working for a first-world company over the Internet, raking in 30k/year. That'll be 150 times what the average person is making. He could comfortably hire and train 100 people and expand the business. If each of the new recruits makes just 5k/year on average, their combined gross product will be 500 000, doubling the village's wealth and enabling them to buy e.g. a tractor to free more people from agricultural labor and weapons to defend their new wealth (poor state with low education == warlords, dictator or worse.)
  • Solar Cooking (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shajenko42 ( 627901 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:52PM (#15844255)
    This is why the people who are promoting Solar Cooking [] are doing so in third world countries. Solar cooking means they don't have to spend so much time looking for firewood, and they can keep their trees. Plus, it helps stave off global warming a little bit.

Science may someday discover what faith has always known.