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Remote Vietnam village goes online

Posted: 25 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless broadband? WiMAX? Internet access? geosynchronous satellite?

The Vietnamese village of Ta Van now has wireless broadband access to the Internet, using a combination of WiMAX and a geosynchronous satellite.

Intel, in a joint project with the Vietnam Data Communication Company and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced it had delivered Internet access to the village, located in mountainous northern Vietnam near the border with China. It set up a 3.3GHz WiMAX base station that receives a spot beam from the IPSTAR satellite and distributes it throughout the village via an omni-directional antenna.

The pilot project has blanketed the village which has what could be the worst communications infrastructure in the country with 2Mbps downlink and a 512Kbps uplink Internet access, paving the way for VoIP and other data services.

Intel Vietnam country manager Than Trong Phuc said the initiative had "tremendous implications for remote, underserved and marginalized communities worldwide," for it demonstrated "the combination of satellite and WiMax as a proven, reliable, cost-effective way" to help them tap into the knowledge economy.

While the company has yet to find any formal takers for the system, Intel spokesman Nick Jacobs said it would "encourage governments in emerging markets . . . to look closely at this as a means to connect their people to opportunity."

The IPSTAR satellite, operated by Thailand's Shin Satellite, is the world's largest broadband satellite, which currently has a footprint covering 14 Asia-Pacific countries, including Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Australia and New Zealand.

Users in Ta Van are now enjoying free Internet services, but its backers believe the WiMAX/satellite technique is commercially feasible even for relatively cash-strapped regions. Jacobs said that, according to Intel's calculations, the service could be offered for about $25 per end user connection per month, and could also bring in revenues by allowing communities to set up businesses, such as Internet cafes for tourists.

- Jonathan Hopfner
EE Times

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