Forbes (04/23/07) Vol. 3, No. 7, Zhao, Michael
Wildnet is a wireless networking scheme in which a pair of transmitters can send 5 million bits of data per second over a maximum distance of 60 miles. Wildnet creator and Intel Research Berkeley Lab director Eric Brewer says he wants to connect the world’s poorest communities with this technology as part of his ultimate goal of “improving the quality of life, health care, and education in the developing world.” Deploying Wildnet is inexpensive, involving a cheap Intel computer board with commercially available Wi-Fi radio chips that use the free Linux operating system to tap the publicly available radio spectrum. Wildnets have been established in Asia and Africa, and the deployment in southern India has yielded tremendous benefits for poor villagers, sparing them from making a long, arduous trek to eye clinics. Brewer says Wildnet complements satellite, Wi-Fi, WiMax, and cellular broadband technologies. Wildnet was developed under the aegis of Brewer’s Technology & Infrastructure for Emerging Regions project, which is currently sponsored by the Intel Berkeley Research Lab. The next challenge Brewer wants to tackle is the provision of data processing aid for microlenders in impoverished nations.