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					                                   Re: Wireless Internet Cafe for Africa?

Re: Wireless Internet Cafe for Africa?


      • From: Jeff Liebermann <jeffl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
      • Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2006 09:21:41 −0800

"Mike Schumann" <mike−nospam@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hath wroth:

        Power can be provided by solar cells. I would think that the biggest
        challenge is internet access. How far away is the nearest location that has
        Mike Schumann

Does a typical African village have a coffee shop?

Perhaps it would be helpful if I offer a 2nd hand horror story to show
what you'll be up against. This was setting up a radio site in
central America mostly for VoIP telephony but which included limited
Wi−Fi internet access.

The backhaul for the internet was provided via a satellite link. I'm
not sure who provider but it wasn't DirecWay or one of the consumer
satellite vendors. Satellite was a pain in the posterior because of
limited performance. It was also expensive at something like
$1000/month. However, attempts to do the same thing via terrestrial
wireless was impossible because the location had several mountain
ranges in between the village and the nearest central office. Copper
wire was laid but stolen within days of installation. Fiber was tried
but someone stole the repeaters. That left satellite.

In order to install the central wireless site, it was necessary to
protect the installation. A concrete blockhouse was built. Tower
installed. Everything surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Several
families from the village were bribed into moving next to the
blockhouse to protect it from vandals, thieves, and revolutionaries.
Apparently, that's common practice with radio installations.

Power was all solar with some very big expensive batteries. It also
ran some VHF/UHF radios so it could have been smaller if it only ran
the wireless. The major drain was the satellite system which burned a
continuous 80 watts and the tower lights at about 120 watts. See my
Excel solar calculator:−calc/solar−repeater−206.xls

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                                 Re: Wireless Internet Cafe for Africa?
for a guess on your required battery size. Also, batteries were
expected to be replaced every 5−8 years. The system has been running
for about 5 years and the batteries are definitely going to need
replacement shortly.

The original wireless system was 2.4Ghz based, but that didn't work
well. The jungle was just too thick and too high for 2.4GHz to
penetrate. The 2.4GHz cast aluminum dish antennas also corroded
badly. The system was switched to 900MHz with plated and painted
yagi's, which worked much better. I'm not sure who the vendor was on
the original 2.4GHz system, but the 900MHz setup as from WaveRider:

In the past 5 years, literally everything has been replaced or
upgraded at least once. The new LMS4000 series client radios seem to
be holding up well, but the Sipura VoIP ATA adapters are constant
problems. Just about anything that fails should the battery voltage
be applied backwards has blown at least once. Because of insufficient
ventilation in the blockhouse, everything inside has at least one
layer of green slime.

Anyway, it goes on and on like that. Don't ask me about the joy of
troubleshooting with broken English, non−technical, and no replacement
parts. Fortunately, I'm #4 on the call list so I don't have to deal
with too many horrors.

You might wanna ask the same question on the ISP−Wireless mailing
list, where there are some people that have done systems in Africa.

Jeff Liebermann jeffl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
150 Felker St #D
Santa Cruz CA 95060
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831−336−2558

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