Social Progress Index, Part 2

By    June 13, 2014

With the news cycle dominated by reports on natural disasters, tragic accidents, warfare, revolutions and other hard-hitting headlines, it is not always easy to find positive news stories. We were thrilled, then, to read this positive ZDNet story entitled “Remote Nepal villages bridging digital gap with local cloud,” featuring one of our customers. For over a decade, Dr. Mahabir Pun of Nepal Wireless has been steadily connecting remote Nepali villages using mostly Cambium Networks equipment. Today his network provides connectivity for distance learning and telemedicine, in addition to boosting local businesses. The strides he’s made in the 175 villages his network has connected so far lift our spirits. His work affirms that social and economic progress is possible through Internet connectivity.

Dr. Pun came to us after he wrote to the BBC in 2001 to tell the world about his village’s need for Internet connectivity. With donations in hand, he first connected his home village, Nangi in mountainous western Nepal, to another village, Ramche, using a simple wi-fi router and homebuilt antenna. Encouraged by this initial success, Nepal Wireless began using Cambium’s point-to-point (PTP) links to connect to the nearest city, a full day’s walk from Nangi. It has added 10-12 villages per year with the help of our PTP and PMP equipment.

When the BBC checked back with Dr. Pun in 2008, results were positive: “The technology hasn't changed the day-to-day life of people because they have to work in their field, raise cattle and grow food. However, it has made their lives much easier when it comes to communicating between villages, with relatives living in the city or working abroad,” he said.

What a difference Nepal Wireless has made from then to today. In his ZDNet article, journalist Ryan Huang reports, “Just five years ago, Internet access in some areas of Nepal cost as much as around US$3,000 per megabit per second (Mbps). Now it's at a much more affordable rate of slightly under US$200 partly thanks to the efforts of Nepal Wireless.” This dramatic reduction in cost is what has allowed the network to operate as effectively as needed for the e-commerce, telemedicine, education and communication citizens depend on to lift themselves up from their agrarian livelihoods, and give future generations the option to live a different life.

Nepal Wireless’ dependence on our equipment to work perfectly in the harsh environment of the Himalayas, and knowing that we must continually raise the bar with our products, is what keeps our focus trained on our mission. Our dream is that all under- or unconnected communities will be able to realize the same benefits as the villages served by Nepal Wireless. To meet this goal, we will continue to improve on speeding the rate of social progress through our work.