WiFi comes to the Himalayas
In August 2009, Inveneo expanded our social impact to Nepal, a primarily rural country of more than more than 28 million people. Only 17% of the population lives in urban areas, and while there is a power grid throughout the country, it is unreliable. Consequently, getting the tools of information and communications technology (ICTs) out to more of the people is quite a challenge.
Inveneo in collaboration with eVeda worked with the Ministry of Information and Communications, Postal Services Division to deploy Inveneo ICTs in post offices in the Eastern Region of Nepal (other Postal Information Centers — or PICs — have been deployed across the country by the Ministry). The Postal Service is the only government division with offices in every village, making it the perfect agency to offer computer and Internet access to the public.
Mark Summer and Andris Bjornson of Inveneo, with Sudip Aryal, ICT Consultant to the Ministry of Information and Communications, spent one week installing an Inveneo server and two VoIP (Voice over IP) phones at the district post office in Dharan. Since this is where the DSL connection provided by Nepal Telecom ended, the team also installed a long-range WiFi connection on a communications relay tower. Additionally, they also performed the installation at one of the post office locations.
The following week four ICT companies — eVeda, SoftSpace, Smart Solutions, and Online Computers — plus two people from the Postal Service and two more from NRIDS (Nepal Rural Information Technology Development Society) joined Mark and Andris in Dharan for a week of classroom-based Inveneo Certified ICT Partner training.
Following a week of classroom training the group split into two teams, eight people traveling with Mark to more accessible villages, while a smaller group of four moved into the more remote villages with Andris. At each of six post offices, they installed a WiFi connection, two desktop systems, one VoIP phone, a multifunction printer/scanner/copier, headsets and webcams, as well as a battery backup.
In addition to setting up six offices to sell Internet and VoIP telephone services, the team of Inveneo and ICIPs also trained a Postal Service employee as a computer lab manager. The Postal Service employees now use the VoIP telephones to communicate with each other, as well as to generate income by selling access time.
Using the post offices, which are already in place throughout the country, gives these government buildings a new use. In this way, Nepal is bringing those living in rural parts of the country in closer communication and contact with life and commerce in the major cities.