John just loves playing soccer, and he’s really looking forward to the weekend game, which he’s agreed to organize. First, he needs to tell his teammates and friends about it, then he must rustle up an opposing team and find a referee – all of which will take him a considerable amount of time.
In order to contact everyone, he’ll have to send countless SMS messages; he’ll have to make all the arrangements on his cell phone because he lives in a rural area in Zambia, and has no internet access. But that’s about to change, for John’s village is set to acquire an eKiosk with a number of PCs, and its inhabitants will then have access to services such as email, chat, web browsing and internet telephony.
This new internet connectivity is being made possible by WiBACK Wireless Backhaul Technology, which has been developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS in Berlin. Researchers at the institute have succeeded in significantly reducing both the capital expenditure and the operating costs involved, meaning it is now possible to set up tailor-made IT infrastructures and communications networks away from the major towns and cities of developing and emerging countries and to connect even those in rural areas to the World Wide Web. WiBACK is a wireless network that uses existing technologies to build a far-reaching network of radio links using inexpensive WiBACK routers. Naturally, the system is designed to support all existing wireless technologies.
The demands that will be made on the WiBACK network in the developing world are huge. "Our technology has to be reasonably priced, low maintenance, auto-configuring and robust. It also has to bridge massive distances of several hundred kilometers. Should a router fail, data must divert automatically. And should an operating error occur, the system must be able to restore itself to normal operation. WiBACK fulfills all these requirements," says Prof. Karl Jonas, project leader at FOKUS. Routers are installed on water towers, purpose-built masts or other similar high-lying points. Since the equipment has GSM and UMTS interfaces, the network is also suitable for mobile communications. And this extremely energy-efficient technology is powered by solar cells. WiBACK wireless networks are due to be rolled out to several countries in sub-Saharan Africa in summer 2012. Jonas is happy to report that "even schools and hospitals in sparsely populated areas will then be able to access the internet." He and his team are assisted by ICT management consulting company Detecon, which is responsible for drawing up the business plan.
In the meantime, FOKUS researchers have already embarked upon their next project, to ensure that infrastructure-poor regions within Germany will also benefit from these inexpensive developments for wireless broadband internet. The first pilot network is currently being built on the fringes of the Westerwald and will be used to test just how reliable the network will be when it is in continuous operation. For example, what will happen when a network hub fails, perhaps because of a power cut? As Jonas points out, "We won’t be installing solar cells in Germany, since the electricity network covers almost the entire country." Initially, he and his team are providing a remote farm in Hennef-Theishohn with mobile communications and broadband internet. To do this, they have set up a 21-kilometer radio link between the Fraun-hofer-Gesellschaft’s existing fiber optic connection in Birlinghoven and the farm, using a local substation operated by energy supplier RWE as a relay point. WiBACK technology can also be employed during major events such as soccer games to increase the overall capacity of the mobile communications network for a set period of time.
In this connection, the researchers are keen to draw attention to the system’s energy consumption: "WiBACK will automatically register if a soccer stadium is full to bursting and increase the number of available network hubs accordingly," says Jonas. He and his team will be demonstrating precisely how this works at CeBIT in Hannover from March 6-10, where they will be installing a WiBACK network incorporating several activate-on-demand routers on a simulated soccer pitch (Hall 9, Booth E08).
Prof. Dr. Karl Jonas | Fraunhofer Research News
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
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Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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