Connecting the Unconnected and Improving the World

By Atul Bhatnagar   September 10, 2019

Whether you look at it as “going back to your roots” or “paying it forward” to help the next generation, each one of us at some time feels an undeniable calling to contribute our personal talents to a greater good. We take a career of accumulated information and experience and clearly see a path to do what has never been done before. Like a work of art, the need is so obvious that it attracts us in all hours. This is not done for money or for recognition, the individual sees a need that no one has yet addressed in such deep detail that they are compelled to take action which must be done without question. Once achieved, the end result seems so natural and fitting to any observer.

This is exactly the case with our most recent Connectivity Hero Award Winners: Ucha Seturi of the Mountain Community Network in Georgia, and Russ Watson from Countrynet in New Zealand. When they describe their work, you can hear this innate and natural life force within them.

Ucha Seturi, Executive Director, Mountain Community Network is the leader and developer of an initiative to bring internet access to the very remote mountainous areas of Georgia, where neither big nor small operators are entering because it is financially unprofitable to implement their network paradigms. Ucha describes his environment, “This very remote northeastern regions of Georgia located on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It is reachable from the mainland with by the only unpaved road which is crossing over 2500-meter Passes.  The Community network project is implemented by constructing a local high-speed fixed wireless network with backbone and access systems installed at remote, rigid location at elevations reaching 3500 meters above sea level.”

Russ Watson, of Countrynet brings high speed internet service to the most remote locations in the South Island of New Zealand. Russ comments, “We are able to provide service almost anywhere in the Southern Lakes district. Even if you’re not in our coverage area, we may be able to install a custom link to a specific location at your request.” In some cases, in very remote locations he uses solar panels to power and standby generators to extend connectivity to business and residential customers.

These projects to very remote locations change the lives of people and connect them to the world. They develop access to unique local culture, improve education, create jobs and health care and enable residents to sell their local products and services.

Now that the networks are built, their existence seems so natural. Ucha describes his view of the project like this: “Originally my roots are from a highlands town, so this society is very close and understandable for me. First, the connectivity creates a chance for locals in a high mountain region to develop themselves and their children. Secondly, this is a border with Russia, so every citizen of my county has a social responsibility to help and develop the area.”

I congratulate Ucha and Russ in seeing a need and giving of themselves. I hope that you also find your opportunity to connect with your world.

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