|Chapter 6: Identifying Appropriate Technologies
Below are five brief case studies illustrating the use of a range of connectivity technologies as well as combinations of technologies to provide reliable and affordable connectivity to diverse rural and underserved environments. These include:
6.7. Case Study: Drive-By WiFi Connectivity—DakNet in India and Cambodia(19)
One approach to connectivity in rural areas assumes that affordable “store and forward” asynchronous access is more important to rural communities than is real-time access. DakNet is a wireless network that takes advantage of existing communications and transportation infrastructure to distribute connectivity to outlying villages. This asynchronous solution basically brings the link to the remote computer by mounting a mobile access point (MAP) and a computer on a local bus or a motorcycle. The mobile computer drives by a fixed computer, delivers any messages it has for that computer, and downloads whatever outgoing traffic is waiting for it. It then moves on to the next computer. At the end of the day it goes back to the bus depot, where it passes the collected traffic onto the Internet backbone. A single vehicle passing by a village once a day is sufficient to provide daily information services.A capital investment of US$15 million could equip each of India’s 50,000 rural buses with a US$300 MAP, thereby providing mobile ad hoc connectivity to most of rural India’s 750 million people. Costs for the interactive user devices that DakNet supports—including thin-client terminals, PDAs, and VoIP phones—may soon become far more affordable than traditional PCs or WLL equipment.