As we've noted before, there's a growing movement to create new networking solutions for poverty- or disaster-stricken areas. (See, for instance, Jer's interview with Inveneo.)
Green Wifi is the latest effort to join this movement. Their brief is to use available technologies to create a rugged, low-cost, solar-powered wifi system for the developing world:
A number of non profit entities focus on addressing the digital divide by providing internet access to developing areas. Green WiFi addresses one of the biggest barriers to success: the lack of reliable electricity in developing areas required to power the network. Green WiFi has developed a low cost, solar-powered, standardized WiFi access solution that runs out-of-the-box with no systems integration or power requirements. All that is required is a single source of broadband access. Green WiFi nodes can then be deployed on rooftops to form a self-healing network that hops the source signal over a virtual 802.11b/g grid. Because these nodes require no fixed installation or power tie-ins, these nodes can form an unplanned, mobile grid that can grow or be relocated as needed. ...last mile internet access with nothing more than a single broadband internet connection, rooftops and the sun.
Such an approach, of course, has the potential to fit nicely into the suite of emerging leapfrogging tools aimed at serving people who not only don't have access to the Net, but don't have any of the infrastructure upon which connectivity usually depends. From the One Laptop Per Child project to broader leapfrogging tools like Freeplay's Weza and Ubuntu, a really compelling toolchest is starting to emerge.
Why does this matter? Because, as we've noted before, connectivity (through both mobiles and the Net, though obviously the two are blurring together) can empower rural people in the market by making prices in distant places transparent; it is enabling new forms of economic activity; and it is even beginning to drive political change. More widespread connectivity is also brings voices to our public debates that we here in the developed world are unused to hearing. And leapfrogging that last mile may prove the most powerful move of all.
That is a really interesting solution. Totally pen tmobile, and if dependable can really shake things up!
Did you hapo find any details on cost, as I would fear this would have possibly high costs per node. Though if configured and ready, implementation costs would be minimal.