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Re: [school-discuss] Ways to put Linux PCs in villages w/o electricity (was: This could work...)

How would OLPC address rural connectivity? Or, do they have any strategy re connectivity in rural areas?

On 7/10/07, John Munro < jmunro@xxxxxxx> wrote:
I realize that this list is specifically for opensource/FOSS etc  but is there anything to preclude considering a hybrid solution for this Malawi project involving OLPC units or equivalent?
They have addressed the power requirements, network interfaces, and effective display in bright or dim ambient light.  I'm NOT saying 'instead', I am saying 'along with' or perhaps 'collaborative hybrid'.
Little changes, like using 12vdc power only, may seem strange, but it solves extensive problems of (wasteful) heat, inefficiency in power conversion, UPS (everything is on a battery), power fluctuations, etc. And solar panels can charge directly, and an inverter (with its own conversion inefficiency) is not needed.
There are many opportunities to address problems in non-conventional ways ("that couldn't work..." but it really might -- in the days of CRTs, we solved an overheating monitor problem in Ghana by propping the case open about 1" -- it worked fine, but probably would not be acceptable in other situations).
It is really helpful to frame challenges as "we could do A, if ...." instead of "we couldn't do A, because ...."

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-schoolforge-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on behalf of Daniel Howard
Sent: Tue 7/10/2007 6:42 PM
To: schoolforge-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [school-discuss] Ways to put Linux PCs in villages w/o electricity (was: This could work...)

Doug Loss wrote:
> That's not really as big a problem as you think.  Cellular modems that
> attach to ethernet are pretty common in the transportation industry.
> Big trucking firms use them along with GPS receivers to keep track of
> their deliveries.
> On Tue, 2007-07-10 at 17:28 -0400, Daniel Howard wrote:
>> Yes, the issue I see is getting the Internet connection through the USB
>> instead of the NIC RJ-45.  Most cell phone providers that do this have a
>> special set of windows drivers so the PC can talk through the USB to the
>> phone and thence to the network.

Oh, good, for once something's easier than I thought...I've got a ping
in to our Malawi foundation guy through my teacher to find out which
cell phone providers use which phones there, so we should be able to
determine which provider has the best package and compatibility for a trial.

Jim's notion of lighting up a village with solar WiFi is intriguing too,
but I'm just focused initially on whether we can develop a cost
effective solution using off the shelf components and services to get a
school in a village with no electricity 5 PCs (one server, four clients)
that have Internet connectivity at least occasionally during the day
(see how my goal statement evolves as I gather cost info).

BTW, my teacher tells me that she will take care of the environment/dust
issues for our first village, so hopefully we don't have to pay more for
dust hardened components, and can get by with covers.

You know how we pay extra fees on our phones to support technology for
schools here in the US (and yes, I know the program has it's abusers)?
I bet some students and consumers in larger African cities would pay an
extra $1 or fraction thereof a month on their cell phone bills to help
provide free data connectivity to a village (or the government could
force them like ours did...)  That would be a very scalable solution and
then we only have to link sponsors with villages and local talent to do
the installs.

Finally, I recall the stuff about putting extra video cards and USB
ports in the server and just using the server, LCD monitors and USB
keyboards and mice, no clients.  That would probably further drop the
electricity requirements, and drop the price per station by another
$110, assuming we can use a $40 video card for each monitor.  Then, a
cell phone data adapter kit is around $150, so our new price list is:

Cell phone: $50 for one that supports data service assuming it's on a
contract to subsidize the cost
Data adapter: $150
Trucker/pole style external antenna for boosting signal strength: $50
Server: $500 (I think by the time we do this, a $500 server would power
5 clients or sessions)
4 extra video ports @ $40/port: $160
4 USB keyboards/mice @ $25 each: $100
200 W Solar array and battery (in case a hand covers up the solar array
accidentally): $1000
Power strips (now no need for ethernet switch): $20.

Total is now: $2030 for five solar powered and cell phone fed stations.

Best, Daniel

Daniel Howard
President and CEO
Georgia Open Source Education Foundation