Thursday, July 28, 2011

Be sure to follow us on Facebook

We should update this blog more, and hopefully will once the project in launched.

But for now, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Achieving Sustainability Part 1

The sustainability of this project is our number one focus.  We have been thinking through how we are going to be able to sustain the network once it is built.  Join us on this journey.

Mhalaunda is a fairly small village with limited economic means.  With relatively high wholesale internet prices sustainability would be nearly impossible.

The only solution appears to be expanding the scope of the project.  There is a slightly larger town nearby called Embangweni that has more economic means.  It is only 12 km away.  Perhaps we can find a solution there. 

After some brainstorming, we think we may be able to make it work if we can get the Mission Hospital, an Internet cafe, and a handful of residential subscribers.

Chelsea tells us that the Mission Hospital in Embangweni is certainly in need of an internet upgrade. "They would greatly benefit in faster Internet."

She has set up a meeting with the hospital administrator and the IT director this Wednesday to discuss upgrading their system. We are going to write up a layman proposal to increase the number of computers with internet capabilities and deliver faster speeds. We will post it when its done. 

In parallel, Dumi has been researching the Internet Cafe business in Malawi.  Internet Cafes appear to be popular in other larger cities in Malawi.  And at 5 Kwacha per minute, we may be able to make decent money if we had five nice Ubuntu laptops.  Right now, there is no Internet Cafe in Embangweni.  If we set up an Internet Cafe, we would be the first.

Then if we can find people in Embangweni that want internet and can afford it, we can offer residential service to help subsidize costs.  Once a mesh is built out, it only costs around $200 to add a common node, so if there are paying subscribers we can always keep expanding for relatively low cost.  Chelsea and Dumi appear confident we can find subscribers.

The last part of the sustainability equation is the wholesale internet costs.  According to FabFi guidelines, we will design the network based on 100kbps per user.  Unfortunately, early research appears to suggest the costs may be a problem.  We are going to have our work cut out for us here.  We will need to be creative and do a good job negotiating.  Dumi has started the ball rolling with executives at MTL and is also in contact with other ISPs in Malawi.  In parallel, Chelsea and Gabe are exploring rent prices.  

We are making good progress and will have more to report in a couple days. 

Please subscribe to our RSS to stay up-to-date on the project.  We have a lot of work to do before August 7th and we will need your support.  If you like what we are trying to do, please Like Us on Facebook!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We are seeking donations to kick off our project

Our Malawi WiFi Project is now kicked off.  We are a registered non-profit corporation and currently have an application in progress with the IRS for 501(c) status for tax exemption.

We are seeking to raise at minimum $5,000 USD, to cover airfare, local transportation costs, lodging, procurement of equipment locally while in Malawi and other ancillary costs involved with the project.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

Just getting everything started.

Twitter - @Malawi_WiFi

Facebook - Malawi WiFi

YouTube -

Stay tuned as we ramp up the project.