CANTENNA: DIY CAN-BASED CHEAP WI-FI OFFERS OPPORTUNITIES FOR RURAL ACCESS

Internet

"Cantenna" wireless technology can make wireless connection cheaper for poorly served rural areas and economically disadvantaged Africans people who do not have access to Internet connectivity, writes Balancing Act correspondent Timothy Kasolo from a workshop on the topic in Pretoria last week.

Wireless technologies offer tested, low-cost options to complement conventional infrastructure, but in order for the promise of wireless to be fulfilled, interventions are needed at a number of levels, ranging from policy, to technical development, to capacity building.

According to workshop speaker Sebastian Buttrich "Cantenna" wireless does not need expensive equipment. It only needs an empty Can, N type female RF conductor,screws, nuts, copper wire and some other electrical tools like drilling machine and that a lot communities can afford such equipment.

The Association for Progressive Communication (APC)has been running a series of capacity building workshops in Africa. The workshop gives participants major benefits in getting developing countries connected to the Internet to ease and cost, absence of cabled infrastructure makes it easier to provide access for remote locations.

With the Cantenna wireless technology in place the rural community in Africa will be able to build their own networks and maintain them. APC Community Wireless Connectivity Projects gives the participants the skills to configure single and multi access points, calculate radio links climbing towers safely, survey their sites,budgeting, sourcing of the required equipment for projects and in so doing secure their own networks.

One of the participants Payton Sondashi from Computers for Zambian Schools (CFSZ) who managed to build to build Cantenna out of recycled tin cans said it was really a great experience and hoped that African countries will be able to improve on the technology in order to make sure that communities have access to wireless Internet connection.

The project is being supported by the the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Open Society Institute (OSI).