Connecting the unconnected Economic constraints and technical requirements towards a back-haul network for rural areas
Rural areas especially in emerging countries often lack affordable broadband Internet connectivity. This digital divide limits the access to knowledge, government services or health care. The major limiting factors are seen in the CAPEX and especially the OPEX related to traditional wireless carrier equipment, its relatively large energy footprint, the vast and sparsely populated areas and the low revenues to be collected. Since in many rural regions access to a power grid may not be available or highly instable, ensuring a 24/7 operation of a cell site is a very costly task. To address these issues we have developed a carrier-grade heterogeneous multi-radio back-haul architecture which may be deployed as an alternative to traditional operator equipment. As integral part of Detecon's PeopleConnect eKiosk business model, Fraunhofer FOKUS' Wireless Back-Haul (WiBACK) network technology provides punctual wireless back-haul connectivity while building on cost-effective and low-power equipment. In this paper we present a pilot scenario in Maseru, Lesotho, where an entrepreneur starts out with three WiBACK-connected eKiosk sites with the goal of providing broadband Internet access to incrementally larger parts of Maseru over time.