MacGyver-style Internet in Afghanistan

Using spare parts like boards, wires, cans and plastic tubs, residents in Jalalabad, Afghanistan have begun cobbling together broadband wireless nodes for less than $60 a pop. With the help of an open-source project called FabFi, an outgrowth of MIT’s Fab Lab, this project is taking root in Jalalabad as well as three locations in Kenya. In Afghanistan specifically, this low-tech, low-cost way of accessing the Internet is helping local business and building infrastructure including hospitals and clinics.

The technology used to create FabFi networks seems like it leaped out of an episode of MacGyver. Commercial wireless routers are mounted on homemade RF reflectors covered with a metallic mesh surface. Another router-on-a-reflector is set up at a distance; the two routers then create an ad-hoc network that provides Internet access to a whole network of reflectors. The number of reflectors which can be integrated into the network is theoretically endless; FabFi's network covers most of Jalalabad. 

What’s particularly exciting about this project is its ability to scale relatively easily and affordably to other regions in the world where infrastructure for traditional broadband is lacking or access to the Internet is not permitted.

Image: FabFi

via Fast Company

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