in partnership with Internet South Africa
Despite the ease and efficiency with which world class connectivity can be built, offline resources can still play a pivotal role in bringing local ownership of that connectivity. A survey of resources for building an offline network with useful online resources, showed a significant lack of non-technical information. As part of a contribution to try to remedy this, a self-help guide was developed, which has since been through several revisions, is available for free, and the goal is to translate it into many languages as soon as it can deliver proven value to communities who might benefit from it.
Also part of this project is the development of an affordable and robust battery and solar solution, as well as contributions to improve the compatibility of Internet-in-a-Box with more affordable and widely available hardware.
With less than R30 000 in funding, we helped Zuko achieve a dream of connecting his home village. During an Internet Society Chapterthon, 2 toolboxes and 3 solar hotspots were installed, and one year of connectivity was procured. This network has since grown to over 30 hotspots, purely from its own revenue.
The !Huin!om project - in partnership with APC
We received a request to help find or develop a very low cost, high quality portable, solar powered speaker, for use in rural Namibia. After considering many options, in order to meet the budget of under R1000 per unit, we settled on a 45W Solar Panel connected to an automotive charger powering a speaker with a Li-Ion battery bank, all housed in a bucket.
At the time we did not know any more details about this project, which turned out to be an offline oral community network using a custom developed app!
APC is an excellent partner to work with. View their video on the project on the left.
You can read more about this project on their blog.
You can read the manual that documents the components here.
VPUU - in partnership with Bundlequest (Pty) Ltd.
VPUU (Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading NPC) brings opportunities to disadvantaged areas by investing in world class infrastructure.
We are consulting on- and currently supporting the first phase build of shared network infrastructure, created with the purpose to empower all ISPs, WISPs and Community Networks in the area to bring world class uncapped internet speed to within the affordability range of everyone living and working in these communities.
Zenzeleni Networks Mankosi Co-op Ltd.
We were invited by a rural community in an area where there was no power and very limited water infrastructure, to help them establish a world class broadband network.
After 8 visits we had helped this rural community become an ISP with more than 500Mbps fiber in a nearby urban center, financed by the recurring revenues from 12 business customers across 5 communities, with more than 5000 community members using excess capacity via Wi-Fi faster than 100Mbps. This made seamless video streaming a reality for the first time, and enabled the real game changer for tele-medicine and remote support and training: seamless video calling.
This followed in in the wake of many years of research into rural telecommunications use in this area by the University of the Western Cape, and the work of many researchers and activists into gender bias and community ownership.
The tensions between commercial, community and research groups was explored - and tested - in depth, and it has been a most valuable learning experience.
The publicity generated by the fact that a rural community could connect at higher speeds than many urban communities has since inspired the establishment of many similar projects.
In the media
"Internet Access in Africa - Are mesh networks the future?" - BBC Africa
The rural community that built a network - WAPA
“Deutsche Welle Profiles Community Networks Around the World” - Internet Society
“Rethinking Affordable Access” - manypossibilities.net
“World in Progress: Stories that matter from around the world” - DW
“Africa Telecoms Infrastructure in 2018” - ManyPossibilities
"Community Networks Key to Connecting Africa, says Internet Society" - CNBC Africa
“Community networks important for ensuring an internet for all” - SABC News
“Coupés du monde connecté, ces citoyens ont créé leur propre réseau téléphonique” - Outthere
“South Africa becomes the first country in the region to support community networks” - APC News
“Zenzeleni mesh networking in the Transkei” - Wizzy
“AlterMundi visita Zenzeleni en Sudáfrica” - Altermundi Blog
“Africa Telecoms Infrastructure in 2017” - ManyPossibilities
Wish Networks (Pty) Ltd.
In order to obtain connectivity in a time when it was only within economic reach of less than 1% of the country (2003) our founder set out to see how expensive lines could be shared.
After failed attempts at starting Wireless User Groups (WUGs), a Wireless ISP (WISP) was established, and grown to cover over 200 buildings, growing purely from generated revenues, selling services that consistently undercut the market by more than 80%
As of 2019, Wish Networks was the most profitable part of a the biggest Wireless ISP conglomerate in South Africa. This is not something we're proud of, as this is a result of the exploitation of the trust that we built up with our customers, but did not yet have the experience needed to hold on to and protect.
A painful and humbling lesson was losing most of our founding stake and we try to help others avoid the same fate.
To add insult to injury, organic ratings of Wish Networks on the internet has now plummeted to some of the worst online, where our hard work and ownership used to ensure that consistently received reviews of 4-5 stars.