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LIFT12 Conference - Village Telco
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LIFT12 Conference - Village Telco


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My talk about telecoms in Africa and the motivation behind Village Telco. The streaming video of the talk can be found at

My talk about telecoms in Africa and the motivation behind Village Telco. The streaming video of the talk can be found at

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  • Mobile CoverageWhile covering a large percentage of the population, it doesn’t cover that much of the country.
  • Lack of Access to Radio Spectrum Constrains Competition and GrowthMost mobile spectrum is controlled by a few incumbents who have a great deal of influence over the market
  • The Birth of the Mesh PotatoWorkshop in South Africa to ask the question, how to scale WiFi-based voice and data services. Experimented with various options, technologies.
  • Genesis of the Mesh PotatoMy poor artist’s conceptPrototype literally hacked into an existing Wireless AP200 beta unitsFinal production version.
  • Mesh Potato FeaturesNot your average access point.UV protected plastic. Single body molding.Accepts anything from 9-40VDC, so can be powered easily by alternative sources… e.g. car battery, solar.Toughened for rural Africa. Capable of withstanding line spikes, power surges, brownouts, anything short of a direct lightning strike.Accepts power via power points, Power Over Telephone Line, Power Over EthernetBased one Open Source technologies. OpenWRT, BATMAN, Asterisk, etc
  • Wayne AbroueEastern Cape South AfricaGriqua people’s enclaveInitially built a 40km WiFi linkSuccumbed to demand from friends and familyNow cnnects advice centres, creches, welfare kitchensStarted as a free service, now a non-profit organisationMixture of technologies
  • Transcript

    • 1. Building aRobustTelecommunicationsEcology withVillage Telco Steve Song LIFT12
    • 2. South AfricaVodacom WirelessCoverage Map
    • 3. ZimbabweEconet WirelessCoverage Map
    • 4. When access isexpensive, it’s hard tolearn to play the game
    • 5. Resilience
    • 6. Telephone InternetInfrastructure Infrastructure
    • 7. Super SuperfluousComputing Computing
    • 8. United States Ethiopia Uganda
    • 9. The Unlicensed Ecosystem
    • 10. Growth of WiFiSource: Daily Wireless –
    • 11. HackingHardware
    • 12. A Simple IdeaAnalogue WirelessTelephony AccessAdaptor Pointfor ordinaryphones
    • 13. Beta ConceptProduction Prototype
    • 14. Not Your Average Wifi Device Outdoor Ready Weatherised UV Protected Tough Sealed Unit Capable of surviving line spike, brownouts, power surges. Flexible Accepts 9-40V Can be powered via phone or data line
    • 15. Mesh Potato Installation
    • 16. ISP
    • 17. East TimorLemi SoaresDiliTimor Leste
    • 18. Wayne AbroueGriqua CommunitySouth Africa
    • 19. Rael LissoosJohannesburgSouth Africa
    • 20. Plans for 2012Mesh Potato 2.0  Open Source  Open Hardware  Faster  Cheaper
    • 21. A Parting Thought...
    • 22. But only if we act together…
    • 23. How to getinvolvedIf you would like to support aVillage Telco directly, pleaseget in touch:steve@villagetelco.orgtwitter @stevesongIf you’re a developer, engineer, orentrepreneur, or just interested,please join us in the Village Telcodevelopment community at twitter @villagetelco
    • 24. Image Credits Google Server by NiallKennedy Rael Lissoos by edyson BY NC BY NC IBM Blue Gene by Argonne National Library Antenna Setup by Razvan Caliman BY SA BY Telephone Box by Vissago Fibre Optic Sensors by PNNL BY NC BY NC SA Telephone Line by fernando BY SA Scaffolding in Addis Ababa Courtesy Owen Barder Blackjack by Shannon K BY SA ND Reserved Parking Licensed from iStockPhoto Weakest Link All Rights Reserved - Re-used by permission Other photos CC BY SA Village Telco