Cableless and Wireless
No messing around with wires anymore. Wi-Fi comes to Nepal
FROM ISSUE #129 (24 JAN 2003 - 30 JAN 2003) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
SUBSCRIBE NT PRINT REFER WRITE TO EDITOR
Imagine checking your emails and surfing the net while sitting in your own garden. Imagine being able to connect to your office network from a coffee shop, or from the airport. Now, imagine doing all these things easily, quickly and cheaply without getting all tangled in phone jacks and looking for the wall socket. Welcome to the world of Wi-Fi.
Wireless Fidelity allows you to connect to the internet from your couch at home, or from the South Col. Essentially, it marries the mobility of the cell phone with the portable PC. Wi-Fi enabled computers can send and receive data indoors and out without wires. And best of all: it is all several times faster than the fastest cable modem connection.
Free networks are currently being installed across Europe and US based on Wi-Fis, where access points are beingset up in the cities. Such networks can be arranged to form a continuous "cloud" of connectivity using free air waves, known as "elektrosmog" in Europe.
Wi-Fi equipped laptops can automatically search and connect to this "cloud" within a 100 m radius of a base station. Chalk symbols scrawled on sidewalks mark the location of the nearest access point.
Meanwhile, back in Nepal, "Communications for national development" has been a slogan for so long that people have stopped taking it seriously. Yet, the role of information technology in leapfrogging development for a country like Nepal is not a slogan, it is real. In a country where copper wire technology has made it next to impossible to get a land line, wireless telephony and Wi-Fi offer a viable way to bypass bureaucratic hurdles so we can finally get on the information superhighway.
The number of people in Nepal who have applied for a telephone connection, but haven't yet got a line has now crossed the 300,000 mark. Nepal's teledensity is 1,446 lines per 100,000 people, one of the lowest in the world. The primary reason-or, excuse-for this is that telecom infrastructure is capital-intensive. This is even more so for a country with rugged topography like Nepal.
This is why the best news to hit us in recent years is the rapid spread and increasing affordability of wireless communication.
Wireless overcomes the tedious, time consuming and costly process of laying cables within crowded metropolises or extensive cabling across the country. Wireless offers an alternative in developed and developing countries alike.
"Wireless gives us flexibility, it has tremendous potential for remote area telecom, for bringing urban areas into Wi-Fi networks, and with wired equivalent privacy so that it is secure," says Shree Ram Regmi, lecturer at the Institute of Engineering in Pulchowk. The technology has now arrived in Kathmandu, it is still a bit expensive. But prices are dropping all the time.
Himalayan Technologies (www.himalayantech.com) is one of the companies dealing with Wi-Fi products in Nepal market with its Linksys wireless networks. The system operates at the 2.5 GHz Industrial Scientific and Medical (ISM) free frequency where the data transfer rate is 11Mbps. By the middle of this year, customers in Kathmandu can have high-speed wireless internet access to replace their wired LAN systems. Says Sumeru Shrestha of Himalayan Technologies, "Linksys delivers the freedom to configure your network your way. You can set up workstations in ways you never thought possible: no cables to install mean less expense and less hassles." But isn't it going to be complicated and expensive? No, Shrestha says. Wireless local area networks will in fact provide seamless roaming to your home server so you can check email from anywhere.
How about security, can hackers get into your server through wireless? Again, no worries. Wireless comes with advanced user authentication features. And the beauty of it is that it is plug-and-use with Windows-based diagnostics that keep you in control. Shrestha plans to show off his product at the CAN Info Tech 2003 starting this weekend. Wireless is the new freedom.