Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Afghans build super-cheap internet

Nick Farrell

Constructed from rubbish

An Afghan city was so cross that it was taking forever to get them online that they built an internet out of rubbish.

Built using the savings of group members and a grant from the National Science Foundation, residents of Jalalabad have built the FabFi network which is an open source system.

It is built out of common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics and can transmit wireless ethernet signals across several miles.

Its longest link is currently 2.41 miles, between the FabLab and the water tower at the public hospital in Jalalabad. It can manage 11.5Mbps and it works through heavy rain, and pollution.
Not great, but better than a poke in the eye with a short stick. It means that communities can build their own wireless networks to gain high-speed internet connectivity.

According to Shareable, the result is viral and it is growing like topsy. The outfit creates cells of users who build new bits of the network and installing and maintain FabFi links.

Residents are knocking together a FabFi node out of $60 worth of boards, wires, plastic tubs, and cans that will serve a whole community at once.

The good side of it is that without government or company involvement there is no one who can force users to do their bidding. It is community based net-neutrality built from rubbish, rather than just filled with it.

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