Friday, January 27, 2006

Wireless Networking in the Developing World

These folks should talk to the Ndiyo folks. A group of real hands-on experts have produced a book Wireless Networking in the Developing World which offers a complete guide to assembling and maintaining wireless networks in areas lacking communications infrastructures. It is being released under a fairly loose creative commons licence so anyone can copy and distribute it.

Cory's been waxing lyrical:

"A new free book delivers a complete HOWTO for assembling and maintaining wireless networks in rural towns in developing countries. "Wireless Networking in the Developing World" was co-written by some of the world's leading community wireless experts, including Rob Flickenger, who wrote O'Reilly's seminal Building Community Wireless Networks and Wireless Hacks,'s Tomas Krag, and numerous wireless hackers of great skill and repute. Many of the contributors have built and deployed networks in the developing world, and they have released the whole text under a very liberal Creative Commons license that encourages others to build on their work and profit from it.

In almost every village, town, or city in the developing world, there are people who can build just about anything. With the right know-how, this can include wireless networks that connect their community to the Internet. The book addresses what Rob Flickenger, the book's editor and lead author, calls a chicken-and-egg problem: "While much information about building wireless networks can be found on-line, that presents a problem for people in areas with little or no connectivity", said Flickenger from his workshop in Seattle. The book covers topics from basic radio physics and network design to equipment and troubleshooting. It is intended to be a comprehensive resource for technologists in the developing world, providing the critical information that they need to build networks. This includes specific examples, diagrams and calculations, which are intended to help building wireless networks without requiring access to the Internet.

In the developing world, one book can often be a library, and to a techie this book may well be a bible. Access to books is difficult where there are few libraries or book stores, and there is often little money to pay for them. "Our book will be released under a Creative Commons license, so everybody can copy and distribute it free of charge. That doesn't mean it is a 'cheap' book. I think it is a great book," stated Corinna 'Elektra' Aichele, one of the books co-authors who was recently installing wireless networks in Bangladesh."

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