NSDI '08 – Abstract
Pp. 119–132 of the Proceedings
Beyond Pilots: Keeping Rural Wireless Networks Alive
Sonesh Surana, Rabin Patra, and Sergiu Nedevschi, University of California, Berkeley; Manuel Ramos, University of the Philippines; Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, New York University; Yahel Ben-David, AirJaldi, Dharamsala, India; Eric Brewer, University of California, Berkeley, and Intel Research, Berkeley
Very few computer systems that have been deployed in rural developing
regions manage to stay operationally sustainable over the long term; most
systems do not go beyond the pilot phase. The reasons for this failure vary:
components fail often due to poor power quality, fault diagnosis is hard to
achieve in the absence of local expertise and reliable connectivity for
remote experts, and fault prediction is non-existent. Any solution
addressing these issues must be extremely low-cost for rural viability.
We take a broad systemic view of the problem, document the operational challenges
in detail, and present low-cost and sustainable solutions for several aspects of the
system including monitoring, power, backchannels, recovery mechanisms, and
software. Our work in the last three years has led to the deployment and
scaling of two rural wireless networks: (1) the Aravind telemedicine network in southern
video-conferencing for 3000 rural patients per month, and is targeting 500,000
patient examinations per year, and (2) the AirJaldi network in nothern India provides Internet access
and VoIP services to 10,000 rural users.
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