Pedal Powered Wireless Internet in the Laotion Jungle

Pedal Powered Wireless Internet in the Laotion Jungle

Neil Anderson (James Cook University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-575-7.ch097
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Abstract

A chance meeting with Jhai foundation founder, Lee Thorn, over breakfast during the 2003 “UN World Summit on the Information Society” in Geneva has led to the author becoming very interested in an exciting, innovative project currently being trailed in Laos. This project aims to bring wireless Internet connectivity to remote villages that lack access to electricity and other services generally regarded as prerequisites for entering the digital age. The project is based on cooperative development with local people to produce and develop a system based on a rugged, long lasting, and weather-proof Linux-based computer connected to the Internet via antenna, a repeater station and a link through an ISP located in the nearest large centre. This article will outline the technical features of the project, the advantages currently arising from the project, and an overview of the personnel currently involved and their roles in the project. This will be followed by a discussion of broader and diverse issues associated with bringing new technologies to people living in isolated and poverty affected areas like Laos. These include ethical issues around perceived cultural imperialism, prioritised allocation of resources, unequal access and effects of globalisation. Issues of a more practical nature also arise with respect to sustainability, advantages and disadvantages, and future directions.

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