In March, when I visited Bhagsu, up above Dharamsala, a fellow named Yahel Ben-David (photo) had just “switched on” the first nodes in the “backbone for a wireless Internet mesh” that he hoped would bring wireless connectivity to the Tibetan exile community, and would spread to much of the rest of the local Dharamsala community.
Well by October 2005, when I returned to Dharamsala, the mesh had become a reality. Backbone nodes provide high-speed connectivity among NGOs in the Mcleod Ganj/Dharamsala area, and low-level 802.11 (Wi-Fi) nodes allow computer users to connect to the mesh and thence to the Internet.
One October morning, Yahel (who at the time had about the most severe flu I had seen in years) explained to a group of us (who gathered at the Upper Tibetan Children’s Village) how he intends to make this mesh a local community resource – owned and operated by the local community that it serves. Phuntsok Dorjee is the directory of the TCV Tech Center, which is headquartered at the Upper TCV.
The plan is that each NGO that subscribes to Internet access thru the mesh will have what I would call a “low level” Wi-Fi node put in place, or the “high level” backbone node will be plugged directly into their already-wired local network, providing them with high speed Internet access, mediated or supplied by the mesh organization. They’ll pay slightly more than the service costs them. The “profits” will be reinvested in the expansion of the system and service to more locations and organizations.
I’ll follow up on this in the next posting.