A WiFi Connection for a Leading Bishop in the Philippines
Inveneo’s Senior Field Engineer Sam Perales has travelled to more than 10 countries to work on ICT projects, but his latest project was particularly special because of the collaboration between United Methodist Communications (UMCom) and local community members.
Last month Sam was in the Philippines in support of Inveneo’s typhoon relief efforts. He was asked by UMCom to add on a trip to the Baguio city region to design and implement an Internet link for the United Methodist Bishop leading the northern region. The typhoon did not impact the north, but it was still not an easy trek. Mountains and difficult terrain made the journey slow. After six hours of travel, Sam was able to meet up with Bishop Pete Torio and his wife, Joyce.
Sam joined the UMCom team which consisted of Nhots Celzo, a Filipino who is currently working for the UMC in IT, marketing, and website management, and April Gonzaga-Mercado, UMCom field staff who is very involved with the relief efforts from Typhoon Haiyan.
Sam and the team members joined Bishop and Mrs. Torio for dinner to understand the technical requirements and learn a little about how Torio uses the Internet. He described very long hours spent working in his office because it was the only place to get an Internet connection. He would even spend the night there because he had no connection at home (5km away).
It was clear that Torio was a man dedicated to his work and to serving his community, and that extending an Internet connection to his home would allow him to better reach his people and conduct church business without having to sleep overnight at the office. Needless to say, the Bishop and his wife were very excited at the possibility of getting a broadband connection that would allow him to be more efficient and to work from home when needed. Sam and the rest of the team were set to start the next day.
Morning came and the team began by getting a radio installed on the roof of the UMC 6-story office building. The only way to access this roof was through a small window on the top floor which quickly proved to be a feat in acrobatic moves. Once the team was through the little window and on to the roof, the installation went rather smoothly and quickly. Soon they were off to the other side of the link – the Bishop’s residence.
The project’s main challenge was hard to miss – a 4-story building directly in the way between the Bishop’s office and home. Determined as ever, Sam knew there had to be a way the team could literally “get around” this issue.
The team traveled to several nearby buildings to see if they could get a signal from the neighbors’ balconies. What was previously an Inveneo/UMCom project now quickly turned into a community activity. Residents in several buildings were more than happy to open their doors and let these strangers (and all their equipment including the Inveneo Cable-Free Survey Pole) in. Sam remarked that walking around the community was the one of the most enjoyable parts of the project.
At last the UMCom and Inveneo teams were able to relay a signal by attaching the receiver to a long pole and placing it on the Bishop’s roof on his house. Within the same day they were able to do a full installation that included configuring a radio, cabling, setting up the modem, and installing the software.
Sam and the rest of the team successfully installed the 5km Internet connection. Currently the Bishop is the only one in his neighborhood that has Internet at his house, and this opens the door for network sharing that he and his wife are very happy to offer their neighbors. In the future though, and as other neighbors get their own WiFi connections, this won’t restrict the bandwidth of the Bishop’s Internet.
Just the very next day, the Bishop had Internet access at his house because of the combined talents of the UMCom and Inveneo teammates. This will help him spend more time at home with his family, allow him to connect and serve local congregations better and communicate globally as his position requires. In addition, the Bishop and his family can offer their neighbors access to broadband Internet that’s fast and reliable.
By the end of the project, Sam was very pleased to see the increased capacity of the local UMCom workers. He knew of their previous skill sets, but this challenge of finding a signal and setting up a WiFi connection in mountainous terrain will help both Nhots and April in future projects. Sam considers UMCom to be a valued partner to the Inveneo team saying “It was a feel good project.” He felt the team worked very well together on this challenging installation.
The partnership between UMCom and the ICT engineering non-profit Inveneo has been one of continued growth. Collaboration is key in an ICT project like this, and with the combined efforts of UMCom and Inveneo, the enduring partnership is easy to see.
Written by Jana Melpolder, Inveneo Staff