Sjur Usken

Views on new technologies and business opportunities from Sjur Usken

VoIP for the 3rd world!


I have been following with great excitement the projects to provide phone and Internet communication to the 3rd world! They are called Village Telcos. There is great work been done by local people bringing communication to those who normally can not afford it. I believe information is the solution for a better world! Knowledge is power! Here is some good projects and organisations:

Dabba is a telecom and Internet provider in Orange County in South Africa. Dabba telecom is a company that is providing voice and data services to under-serviced areas. dabba has built a distributed community based ownership model.They have been helped by the Shuttleworth Foundation to create a usable wireless and telephony device. It is a combination of WLAN mesh networks and VoIP to deliver their services.

Inveneo is an organization helping projects in the 3rd world. “Inveneo is a non-profit social enterprise whose mission is to get the tools of ICT into the hands of organizations and people who need them most: those in remote and rural communities in the developing world.” They help other organisations to help Africa.

Inveneo are experts in:

  • Ultra low-power computers and servers
  • Long-distance wireless (WiFi) Local-Area Networking (LAN) gear
  • VoIP telephony software and integrated hardware
  • Free and Open source operating systems for servers and desktops

I love the idea to combine open source, wlan mesh (wireless p2p networking) and VoIP to bring information to the ones needing it the most! I’m trying to help as best as I can on these projects, but its not that easy as a by-stander. There are good discussions on the mailing lists and they all get proper responses. I’ve ordered several of the WLAN units to set up a neigbourhood mesh network to learn more.

I’ve talked with one that was in Uganda, and the advise from him was to go down yourself and see how you can help. It’s hard trying to help when you don’t even know what is happening locally. I’ve checked up on plane tickes, expensive…, but also gotta get some local contacts before travelling down there. If you know any, please let me know!

Next steps: Build the WLAN mesh network, set up the VoIP billing server, share the knowledge!
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