Kerala’s Akshaya Project writes about what is being touted as the world’s largest rural wireless network:

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 Systems.

n-logue, 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.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.