MIT's Technology Review is reporting on new WiFi radio devices from Intel that drastically increase the effective range of bridged routers. Intel claims a range between two of the $500 routers near 60 miles, although most implementations are expected to connect wired urban cores with wireless villages within 30 miles.
As the article notes, in many areas, it simply isn't feasible to run copper or fiber to these villages:
Wireless satellite connections are expensive, [Jeff Galinovsky, a senior platform manager at Intel] points out. And it's impractical to wire up some villages in Asian and African countries. "You can't lay cable," he says. "It's difficult, expensive, and someone is going to pull it up out of the ground to sell it."
Most wireless routers wait for acknowledgment from other nodes on the network before sending additional data, drastically reducing bandwidth and range. The new Intel routers use software to set up specific times at which the devices are expected to be communicating, eliminating the need for such acknowledgments.
At over 6Mbps, the links provide adequate speed for videoconferencing, and, of course, connecting the exurban classrooms and the Classmate PCs that Intel is rolling out.