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Networking Wireless Networking Communications IT

How Africa Will 'Leapfrog' Wired Networks 183

umarkalim writes "In an interview with Al Jazeera, Les Cottrell at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory explains how Africa will actually 'leapfrog' the need to install hard-wired cables. He says it's often overlooked that the continent is huge and that the countries are diverse. He says, 'the cost of the infrastructure is quite high, especially if you have to connect every home with copper cables and fiber-optic cables ... I think in many cases Africa will actually "leapfrog" the need to install hard-wired cables everywhere, and will be able to use different techniques such as the BRCK modem, the low-earth orbiting satellites or the 3G solutions to get connectivity to where they need.'"
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How Africa Will 'Leapfrog' Wired Networks

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  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @12:37AM (#44753527) Homepage Journal
    Yes. But that's somewhat orthogonal to the discussion, in the sense that Africa really has a lot of unresolved issues that won't go away until a lot of people die. Europe went out and conquered the world from 1500-1900, and then immolated itself in two huge wars in the twentieth century that fundamentally came down to questions of governance. Africa has to have some of those kind of wars, where everyone loses, before its people will accept suboptimal solutions.
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @12:43AM (#44753553) Homepage Journal

    Not necessarily.

    You're sharing SPECTRUM with everyone and their brother. And that's actually even worse.

    And building capacity for wireless is non-trivial as well. It's not just a matter of putting up another access point or uplink.

    Example: GenCon.

    Downtown Indianapolis has a plethora of connection options. Wired, wireless, cellular, etc.

    On a Friday evening it just doesn't matter. Getting online via ANY means is a joke. You're better off with IP over smoke signal. As 50,000 people (over twice the population of the city I live in and an increase in Indy's total population to the tune of about 5-6%) in the area blitz the available spectrum for wifi and cellular, while wired connections in the hotels are drowned by rooms filled to capacity and everyone sporting a laptop/tablet/etc. And it's a static population increase for those 4-5 days.

    Granted, in much of Africa, the population density is NOWHERE near that high. But you also have the same problems you would laying out a "universal" internet or power grid in the US. You have densely populated areas that are difficult and expensive to build capacity into. And you have very sparsely populated areas where people building the capacity likely will never see a return on investment. And the latter actually outnumbers the former by an order of magnitude or more. And Africa is the same thing, but with over 3x the landmass and population.

    If something like this was going to be as simple as they're talking about, it'd have been done already.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @01:26AM (#44753743)

    Wireless gets them some access which is better than nothing but not even close to fiber. Your not going to magic around the spectrum issues .


    But the biggest issue in Africa is not spectrum (yet) it's copper theft.

    This is pretty much the only reason wireless is better than wired. There are very few components worth stealing.

  • Re:OLD news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by x_IamSpartacus_x ( 1232932 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @02:19AM (#44753891)
    You're absolutely right. I live in Mozambique and people in the DEEP bush (read: rural areas) who live in houses made of mud or grass have cell phones are able to do simple banking even on old candy bar phones. Here in the capitol of Maputo, in the last year, smart phone and tablet use has exploded. Mozambique has 3 cell networks that offer 3G connectivity and one is talking up their 4G transition for next year. I think the intuition of the touch screen is being proven here as people who were raised without running water or power are able to pick up and use a smartphone while the same person struggles to a comical degree trying to understand and use with any semblance of efficacy a laptop or desktop PC.

    Oh... Mozambique is the 3rd least developed country IN THE WORLD according to the UNDP []
    So yeah, this Les Cotrell is just a guy wanting to sound smart by explaining things about Africa to people who know nothing about Africa. This happened long ago.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling