It’s cool that I can surf the Internet from my couch because I’ve got a Wifi access point in my house. But it’s far more than cool that people in Bamako can hook their businesses to the Internet without using Mali’s overstressed phone system due to inexpensive wireless networks.
My friend Tomas Krag has been fascinated for several years by the possibility of wireless as a solution to connectivity problems in the developing world. He’s built networks in Ghana and Armenia, led workshops in Uganda and India, and has forgotten more about wireless networks than most people will ever know.
In October 2005, Tomas and the Wireless Roadshow project brought together several wireless networking experts and O’Reilly editor Rob Flickenger for a “book sprint” in London: a four day event where the authors and editor worked together to create a detailed outline and assign chunks of the book to each other. Four months later, they’ve got a finished product, a book called Wireless Networking in the Developing World”.
The book will be available in a print-on-demand edition in the near future, but is currently available as a download. It’s licensed under a Creative Commons “share alike” license, which means you can do whatever you’d like with the text, so long as you share the output (which makes it possible for someone to translate the text into Kiswahili, for instance.) There’s a wiki for the book, which allows you to have input into the next edition, adding suggestions or corrections.
How do you run a wireless access point from a battery? How long will a Wifi signal carry in rain or dust storms? How do you keep an access point on a 30m mast from being damaged by rain or lightning? I don’t know, but I will after downloading and reading the book…!