Meshing Up Mahavilachchiya
Horizon Lanka Foundation
Horizon Lanka Foundation (HLF) believes that rather than keeping school computers and laptops in a central location; they should be placed in the students’ homes and connected to the Internet through a low cost solution such as mesh technology.
Trainings can be arranged to teach student users how to benefit from the online content available to them, as well as build technical literacy and Internet skills. The computers can be monitored through a set of competent senior students and youth, with the help of a staff member. Village youth and adults can leverage Internet skills and content to make a positive impact on their lives and communities.
The existing mesh network in Mahavilachchiya was installed in November 2006. The network worked only for few months, and technical problems were soon identified, including the need to relocate an entire network tower. Likewise, the original configuration was only able to provide network coverage for a quarter of the village.
Before beginning the project in earnest, the team conducted a survey of the existing network which indicated it may be possible to cover the entire village with a mesh network if existing HLF towers could be relocated, a step which would require the assistance of two existing mobile operators (Dialog Telekom and Hutch) in order to repurpose their privately-owned towers for project use. When approached, both operators granted this permission. This agreement allowed HLF to repurpose its own, older towers (and move one tower to a new location), to cover the entire village.
Over the course of the project, HLF was about to bring 30 access points online (26 houses and 4 public schools) to improve the quality of the connectivity provided by the local ISP, LankaCom. As a result, the wireless mesh area expanded significantly, enabling laptop users to connect to the mesh network easily.