MALLAPURAM, India--An Indian state has
launched wireless broadband to provide connectivity in rural areas
unreachable by traditional telephone lines or cellular phone services.
The community Internet kiosks, named Akshaya, have been set up by the Kerala State IT Mission Department.
More than 550 of the kiosks have been opened in the Mallapuram
district, spread over 3,500 square kilometers. The local government
plans to introduce kiosks in other districts later this year. The
centers will offer services such as Internet access, Net-based phoning
and videoconferencing to state offices as well as private businesses.
Five Wi-Fi hotspots have also been established around government
offices and a tourist resort.
"This is the world's biggest rural wireless network," H.S. Bedi,
managing director of Tulip IT Services, said at the launch. "The
decision to provide a completely wireless solution was dictated by the
Mallapuram's rugged terrain. Other options could have been leased lines
or cable or fiber--all of which would have involved digging and would
have been more difficult as well as more expensive to roll out."
The broadband backbone for the network has been set up by Tulip,
an Indian IT services provider, using gear supplied by a clutch of
North American wireless-gear makers. Wi-Lan, a Canadian maker of
broadband wireless products, has supplied base stations, while AirSpan
has provided Wireless IP Local Loop Systems. Some subscriber premises
receivers have been sourced from Marconi, while routers are from Cisco
India is among the fastest-growing wireless markets in the world,
with nearly 39.5 million cell phone users. Companies are now beginning
to address rural areas, where there are no legacy systems, with
wireless systems that can support both telephony and Internet.
Generally, multipurpose community Internet kiosks are preferred, in
place of household connections. The kiosks can be used to, among other
things, send bill payment to various government departments, file
complaints and follow up on passport applications.
a wireless company incubated by the telecommunications group at the
Indian Institute of Technology Madras, has set up kiosks that provide
Internet, telephony, e-governance and telemedicine facilities in seven
Indian states. Those kiosks rely on wireless technology for only the
last mile, using CorDect wireless technology developed and marketed by
the IIT Group and Analog Devices.
Wi-Lan said its Versatile Intelligent Network Environment technology
deployed in India is designed to "line of sight" limitations, using
network nodes as repeaters and routers for other nodes that either do
not have line-of-sight or are too distant to have direct connectivity
to the Internet node. VINE networks can cost less than conventional
cell-based networks, particularly when covering large, sparsely
populated areas, the company said. WiLan is also setting up a statewide
WLAN in another state, Gujarat.