[IAEP] EduJAM day 1 Tour of Uruguay

David Farning dfarning at activitycentral.com
Sun May 1 16:29:22 EDT 2011

EduJam started with a bang this morning with visit to the Aurora project in
Tala, Uruguay.  The project, run by a local farmers cooperative, brings WIFI
to farmers outside of Tala.  The local telcos decided that it is not
profitable enough to bring service to the area. In true hacker  fashion they
built their own system.

The core of the system is a number of transmission towers which are
connected via directional antennas.  These towers can be comfortably located
about 10km apart. Each tower has a number of WIFI transmitters which serve
local families. If the family is close they can use standard WIFI. As they
move farther from the tower they use a systems of extenders to connect to
the nearest tower.

These towers are daisy chained to enable coverage for a wide area at a very
low price. Back in Tala, a nearby community with internet connectivity, the
projects connects via a standard DSL connection.

The most amazing part is that they can set up a complete tower, antennas,
and base station for less than $1,000 each. They fabricate the towers
themselves. The families which will be using the tower erect it themselves.
Some of the towers are taller than 20 meters. Pretty impressive. Once the
tower is up, project members come and install the transmitters.

It is a great example of hardware hacking. The local families, left behind
by the local telco, are scratching their own itch to provide connectivity
for their kids who use XOs and for themselves. The project members are
freely sharing their knowledge and experience with other co-operatives so
they can set up system for themselves and their children.

Absolutely brilliant idea which is being well executed :)  Formal session
was follow by an asado which gave us a great chance to talk with the people
with that set up the project.


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