Nepal Wireless Networking Project


Nepal Wireless Networking Project

Nepal Wireless Networking Project [1] (NWNP) is a social enterprise that provides Internet access, electronic commerce, education, telemedicine and other services to a number of remote villages in Nepal, using wireless technologies. The project was created and is led by Mahabir Pun, who has received international recognition including the Magsaysay Award for his work in this field.

Contents

Development of the wireless network infrastructure

Himanchal High School, founded in 1993, is located in Nangi, a mountain village in western Nepal.[2] In 1996, Mahabir Pun started using the school's Web site to attract volunteers and collect materials for the school. After requesting assistance from the BBC,[3] Pun attracted volunteers and computer equipment donations from around the world. Pun used two small hydro-generators installed in nearby streams to power computers which had been donated by people in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2002, Wi-Fi-based wireless connectivity was established between Nangi and a neighbouring village, Ramche. After five years, the team succeeded in connecting Nangi to Pokhara, the closest city with Internet access.[4]

Numerous institutions and technology firms provided support for the project, including the Donald Strauss Foundation, the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology at George Mason University, the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), smartBridges, Pacific Wireless and others. Besides the international support, local institutions including the E-Networking Research and Development, Gandaki College of Engineering and Sciences and Prime College also contributed to the project.[5]

By 2008, forty-two villages in Myagdi, Kaski, Parbat, Makawanpur, Dolakha, Palpa, Bajhang and Khumbu region had acquired Internet access through the project. At that time, nineteen further villages in Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Gorakha, Tanahu, Myagdi and Baglung districts were also anticipating Internet access.[4]

Services

NWNP provides communications, education, electronic commerce, and telemedicine services as well as job opportunities.

Communications

Using Wi-Fi technology, many villages within the project region have been connected to the Public-switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Previously, most of them did not have telephone access. The communications centers in these villages now provide call services, Internet access, and video conferencing facilities. These centers are also capable of providing photocopying, document processing and photography services.

Distance Education

High school students began using the Internet for educational purposes, and using e-mail to communicate with fellow students abroad.

The project is also working together with the Open Learning Exchange, Nepal Research and Education Network [1], a non-governmental organization, to develop interactive educational materials based on government curricula. While live distance education programs have been tested, due to poor video quality, the project is seeking technical assistance to make the system functional. This is required to address the problem of providing education and training in remote areas of Nepal.[6]

Telemedicine

Three villages, Nangi, Ramche and Tikot, are connected to the city hospital in Pokhara. In order to treat patients, health workers in these villages use video-conferencing facilities to share information with the doctors in the city hospital. The project also helped to launch a telemedicine service between Kathmandu Model Hospital and Dolakha General Hospital, and plans to expand services in the rural areas of Makawanpur.[6]

E-Commerce

Since the inception of the wireless network, yak farmers have been using it to buy and sell livestock as well as exchange veterinary tips.[7]

In 2007, with the help of student volunteers of Gandaki College of Engineering and Sciences of Pokhara, the project launched a Web site for local electronic commerce. This Web site is used to trade supplies such as grain, poultry, and cattle. Virtual credit card transaction was also being tested in 2008.[6]

Economic Ventures

The project also provides a plant nursery, a carpentry facility, paper-making and sewing machine workshops, a camping ground for trekkers, a fish farm and a yak farm [8] to support the local economy and provide employment.

Future and long term goals

The future and long term goals of NWNP include [9]:

  1. acquiring additional resources to improve and extend distance education and telemedicine programs
  2. running electronic commerce training programs in the villages
  3. improving the quality of Internet connectivity
  4. extending the existing network and services
  5. starting remittance and credit card transactions in the villages and tourist towns
  6. organizing training programs to help others replicate the network in other parts of the country
  7. developing a formal Web application dedicated to telemedicine
  8. adding redundancy and backup to existing network services
  9. developing a limited liability company with multiple stakeholders.

References

  1. ^ "Nepal Wireless Networking Project". Nepal Wireless Networking Project web site. http://www.nepalwireless.net/. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  2. ^ "The School". Himanchal Education Foundation web site. http://www.himanchal.org/school-history.html. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  3. ^ "Village in the Clouds Embraces Computers". BBC web site. 2001-10-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1606580.stm. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  4. ^ a b "The Beginning". Nepal Wireless Networking Project web site. http://www.nepalwireless.net/story01.php. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  5. ^ "How you can contribute". Nepal Wireless Networking Project web site. http://www.nepalwireless.net/contribute.php. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  6. ^ a b c "Current Progress, and Plans for 2008 of Nepal Wireless Networking Project". Nepal Wireless Networking Project web site. http://www.nepalwireless.net/progress.php. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  7. ^ "Wi-Fi Lifeline for Nepal's Farmers". BBC web site. 2004-05-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3744075.stm. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  8. ^ Ruth S. and Giri J. (2007). "Defying the Odds: A Success Story from the Mountains of Nepal". Information Technology in Developing Countries 17 (3). http://www.iimahd.ernet.in/egov/ifip/nov2007/stephen-ruth.htm. 
  9. ^ "Future and Long Term Goals of Nepal Wireless Networking Project". Nepal Wireless Networking Project web site. http://www.nepalwireless.net/future.php. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 

External links


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