Wifi in the Hills

by Conversations with Dina on June 18, 2007

in Bridging The Divide Rural India,Indian Culture,Internet And Computing,Uncategorized

The Indian Express reports that a couple of Israeli geeks have set up a low-cost wi-fi network in Dharamshala, spread over 70 acres, more than 7,000 ft above sea level.

“Thirty-eight-year old David’s technological expertise and perhaps
even nimble athleticism (courtesy his Mossad training) proved useful in
setting up the network in the mountainous terrain. Antennae were
erected in the most unlikely places (in one case the tower was painted
with the insignia ‘Om’ and served as the spire of a local temple), the
Linksys routers were re-engineered to make them power-efficient(most of
them run on solar energy) and the towers were made “monkey resistant” after it was found that the primates found perverse pleasure in
dangling from them.

Other “sabotage” bids were similarly thwarted. There was one
last year in the form of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDSA)
on the website of the Tibetan Technology Centre. Says Ginguld: “It is
difficult to pinpoint who did it but it started after an extensive
series of scans which happened somewhere in China. The same URLs were
loaded to access the database repeatedly…” In a written reply to The
Sunday Express, the Chinese Embassy said it was “unaware of any such
thing”.

Schools, hospitals and other NGOs have benefited immensely
from the service, though the network’s limited bandwidth means it is
not accessible to individuals and laptop-carrying tourists. Says Dawa
Tsering of the Tibetan Medical Institute: “Our earlier connection would
break down frequently and wouldn’t be repaired for long durations. The
connectivity now is more or less uninterrupted.” While the vision of
BPO centres coming up in the region might be a bit too romantic, the
network is being used to promote trade. Dolma Kyap of Norbulingka Art
Institute says they offer Tibetan art works like Thangka painting and
statutes for sale on the Net. But what Ginguld is particularly thrilled
by is the sight of children using the network. “Computer labs in Indian
schools have lots of computers but no internet connection, which is
akin to having a sleek car without petrol. Today when I see
10-year-olds logging on to sites like hi5, chatting with people, I
realise we are on the right path,” he says.”

Cool!

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