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Hands-On Leapfrogging

wndw-dish.jpgWireless Networking for the Developing World is a how-to guide for building, deploying and maintaining wireless information networks in rural parts of the developing world. Written by Tomas Krag, O'Reilly editor Rob Flickenger and a wide assortment of wireless hackers brought together by the Wireless Roadshow last October, the book is now available as a download under a generous Creative Commons "share alike" license (which means you can do whatever you’d like with the text, so long as you share the output -- allowing people to translate the text into local languages, for instance.) In the near future, the book will also be available in a print-on-demand format.

The website for the book includes a wiki to allow readers to participate in spotting and fixing errors, offering suggestions of case studies and useful websites, and contributing to the development of the next edition of the book.

The book is very clearly a practical guide, not a discussion of policy or social theory:

The overall goal of this book is to help you build affordable communication technology in your local community by making best use of whatever resources are available. Using inexpensive off-the-shelf equipment, you can build high speed data networks that connect remote areas together, provide broadband network access in areas that even dialup does not exist, and ultimately connect you and your neighbors to the global Internet. By using local sources for materials and fabricating parts yourself, you can build reliable network links with very little budget. And by working with your local community, you can build a telecommunications infrastructure that benefits everyone who participates in it.

Chapters include radio physics, network design, hardware (including a section on using solar and wind to power the system), and five different case studies, from New York to Timbuktu. The authors cover many troubleshooting, management and maintenance issues, acutely aware that it's very likely that the person who sets up the network will be responsible for keeping it going. I was particularly pleased to see a list of common questions (and pointers to the pages with the answers) in a prominent location in the very first chapter -- this is clearly a book written by people who have had to figure these things out for themselves in the past, and don't want to put anyone else through that kind of pain. But don't think that this is a simplified text only meant for beginners; along with the hands-on, step-by-step instructions, Wireless Networking for the Developing World delivers a good deal of background information on why things work the way they do -- exactly the kind of information necessary when readers encounter problems the book doesn't cover.

Comments (3)

We need the same for energy and a couple other things, and we're done (with beginning).

See Ben Muse, tells us that Mauritius will become the first country w/ full WiFi Coverage:


Mauritius also has Pr George Chan of http://www.zeri.org fame, who recently flew to London to talk about Dream Farms (google for it) - please create some synergy there!


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