Wireless Networking in the Developing World is a free book about building low-cost wireless network infrastructure. In it you will find information about:
* How to design a wireless network that extends the reach of an existing Internet connection
* Understanding radio waves, antennas, and transmission lines
* Choosing and configuring wireless networking hardware
* Designing a solar energy system to provide power to network devices in remote places
* Securing, monitoring, and maintaining your network
* Implementing an economic model that will sustain your project
Complete 2nd Edition
This book was created by a team of individuals who each, in their own ﬁeld, are actively participating in the ever-expanding Internet by pushing its reach farther than ever before. The massive popularity of wireless networking has caused equipment costs to continually plummet, while equipment capabilities continue to sharply increase. We believe that by taking advantage of this state of affairs, people can ﬁnally begin to have a stake in building their own communications infrastructure. We hope to not only convince you that this is possible, but also show how we have done it, and to give you the information and tools you need to start a network project in your local community.
Wireless infrastructure can be built for very little cost compared to traditional wired alternatives. But building wireless networks is only partly about saving money. By providing people in your local community with cheaper and easier access to information, they will directly beneﬁt from what the Internet has to offer. The time and effort saved by having access to the global network of information translates into wealth on a local scale, as more work can be done in less time and with less effort.
Likewise, the network becomes all the more valuable as more people are connected to it. Communities connected to the Internet at high speed have a voice in a global marketplace, where transactions happen around the world at the speed of light. People all over the world are ﬁnding that Internet ac-cess gives them a voice to discuss their problems, politics, and whatever else is important to their lives, in a way that the telephone and television sim-ply cannot compete with. What has until recently sounded like science ﬁction is now becoming a reality, and that reality is being built on wireless networks.
But even without access to the Internet, wireless community networks have tremendous value. They allow people to collaborate on projects across wide distances. Voice communications, email, and other data can be exchanged for very little cost. By getting local people involved in the construction of the network, knowledge and trust are spread throughout the community, and people begin to understand the importance of having a share in their communications infrastructure. Ultimately, they realize that communication net-works are built to allow people to connect with each other.
In this book we will focus on wireless data networking technologies in the 802.11 family. While such a network can carry data, voice, and video (as well as traditional web and Internet trafﬁc), the networks described in this book are data networks. We speciﬁcally do not cover GSM, CDMA, or other wireless voice technologies, since the cost of deploying these technologies is well beyond the reach of most community projects.
Purpose of this book
The overall goal of this book is to help you build affordable communication technology in your local community by making best use of whatever resources are available. Using inexpensive off-the-shelf equipment, you can build high speed data networks that connect remote areas together, provide broadband network access in areas that even dialup does not exist, and ultimately connect you and your neighbors to the global Internet. By using local sources for materials and fabricating parts yourself, you can build reliable network links with very little budget. And by working with your local community, you can build a telecommunications infrastructure that beneﬁts everyone who participates in it.
This book is not a guide to conﬁguring a radio card in your laptop or choosing consumer grade gear for your home network. The emphasis is on building infrastructure links intended to be used as the backbone for wide area wire-less networks. With that goal in mind, information is presented from many points of view, including technical, social, and ﬁnancial factors. The extensive collection of case studies present various groups attempts at building these networks, the resources that were committed to them, and the ultimate results of these attempts.
Since the first spark gap experiments at the turn of the last century, wireless has been a rapidly evolving area of communications technology. While we provide specific examples of how to build working high speed data links, the techniques described in this book are not intended to replace existing wired infrastructure (such as telephone systems or ﬁber optic backbone). Rather, these techniques are intended to augment existing systems, and provide connectivity in areas where running ﬁber or other physical cable would be impractical.