Inveneo Broadband for Good Archives

Broadband for Good Program 2012 Midyear Update

  1. Posted by Inveneo on July 18, 2012 in the categories: News

Inveneo’s Broadband for Good™ Initiative was formally launched in January 2012 with the goal of accelerating access – high quality broadband access of 1 Mbs or more – to those who need it most in underserved or rural areas across emerging markets and the developing world. Our goals for Broadband for Good are:

  • Launch a 3-year initiative to catalyze rural broadband delivery models;
  • Build an expert team that will codify Inveneo’s lessons learned in deploying broadband ecosystems into a framework that can be applied to create context appropriate models in a variety of regions that can be successfully demonstrated and scaled;
  • Build an advisory board of experts and a collaborative alliance of organizations that have complementary goals and that can help drive progress on a regional or global scale;
  • Identify and invest in demonstration network administration and monitoring systems that can accelerate rural service delivery by allowing easier and lower cost system integration;
  • Implement an array of demonstration projects with a range of delivery models with partners in East Africa and other underserved areas including South America and the Caribbean.

It’s with great excitement that we share BB4G’s significant momentum in the updates below:

Building the Team

We have engaged a team of seasoned professionals, who collectively represent years of hands-on experience delivering technical solutions in low-resource environments and working in the international telecommunications, high tech and international development industries.

Advisory Panel

In addition to the core expert team, BB4G is developing an Advisory Panel composed of individuals/experts, whose skills, relationships and experience can be leveraged to further BB4G goals. The goal is to launch the board in September.

Outreach and Engagement in Broadband Initiatives

BB4G team members have already begun reaching out to existing and nascent broadband initiatives, engaging in conversations and new initiatives at both the national and global levels. From this effort, it has become clear that understanding of the potential of broadband for development is at a peak, with many global organizations actively engaged in developing broadband strategies and seeking implementation models which can prove viable/fundable.

Inveneo has also identified a targeted set of community events over the next few months that are driving broadband dialogue and deployments. These include:

Framework and Process Development

A core component of the Broadband for Good initiative is to deliver a comprehensive framework for project deployments so that our experience can become a practice, repeatable by Inveneo and our partners and ultimately the telecommunications community at large.

Depending upon the specifics of the potential project, the Rural Broadband Framework methodology and BB4G modeling tool will produce a plan with components relevant to that country and region, including (for example) identification of anchor tenants, telecom policy approaches, open access and shared asset options, technical solution sets, network administration and monitoring systems plug-ins, local entrepreneur identification and training processes, business models and sales marketing templates. We are developing the replicable framework for use in our demonstration projects later this year and with a plan to release to the community at large in 2013.

Committed and Current Demonstration Projects

The launch of the Broadband for Good initiative has enabled Inveneo to reach out within the development and telecoms community to identify opportunities to demonstrate a wide range of broadband projects around the world. Each of the demonstration projects below has similar characteristics: the lack of dependable and affordable access, pre-identified anchor tenants to subscribe to and benefit from the broadband, use of low-cost technology to deliver more cost effective designs, and the participation of local carriers.

  • Dadaab Connect, Kenya: Inveneo and partners NetHope and USAID identified opportunities to bring better, more reliable Internet and interagency communications to the many humanitarian agencies working in the Dadaab, Kenya region. By working with Cisco’s TacOps we installed and configured a local high-speed which has already enabled the humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate among themselves and to support overall operations. As the new network architecture is tried and proven to be more reliable and cost effective, it will be extended to the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement and economic empowerment. The Dadaab Connect project is funded by Inveneo’s Broadband for Good Program, Cisco, Microsoft, NetHope, Craig Newmark, the Orr Family Foundation, UNHCR, and USAID’s Global Broadband Innovations Program.
  • Internet Now!, Northern Uganda: In partnership with Oxfam Novib, Arid Lands Information Network and Samasource, Inveneo is launching an ambitious large-scale WiFi network across northern Uganda. The project will establish a MicroTelco (micro-telecommunications company) with 100 “service & employment” location centers across the region. Internet Now! has been funded through a prestigious competition hosted by the Dutch Postcode Lottery with Oxfam Novib as the project lead.

New Demonstration Projects

We are currently exploring demonstration projects with many partners in East Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Oceania. These potential projects include a range of broadband demonstrations:

  • Localized rural broadband projects for organizations (healthcare, education, libraries)
  • Backhaul projects that would affect access and lower costs for an entire country
  • Regional projects that would demonstrate the entire eco-system model

Technology

As part of the program’s toolkit, BB4G intends to facilitate development of both network management and customer provisioning software to support our NGO/enterprise and individual client broadband services. These will be part of a suite of cloud-based operational support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) services, including:

  • Support for multiple carriers/resellers on the same network with privacy management, separate accounting and reporting;
  • Product ordering, both pre-paid and post-paid, supporting scratch card and SMS purchases, invoicing and detailed billing.
  • Bandwidth shaping on an individual session or user basis
  • Network congestion management;
  • Customized splash web pages to tailor for carrier selected or access point location.

The BB4G team will call upon its telecoms expertise in order to design truly innovative tools for the initiative. We are actively engaging in dialogues with many organizations – about needs, and potential tools for open source and shared low cost OSS/BSS infrastructure.

Continued Program Development

Inveneo’s goal is to deliver the Broadband for Good initiative as a three-year program with an estimated budget of $5 Million. At the completion of the program, the goal is to have three viable demonstration projects – but we anticipate having many more – and the tools and framework to bring these and many more to regional and national scale.

To date, Inveneo has received nearly half of the total budget from generous supporters that include Google, Cisco, the Orr Foundation and Craig Newmark. (Thank you!)

We aim to build support for the core and demonstration project program through engaging new organizations that are committed to accelerating social and economic impact through technology. We are seeking additional support from foundations, corporations, bilateral and multilaterals organizations and local governments with interest in funding the core concept, technical solutions and/or country level demonstration projects.

If would want more information or would like to participate as a partner in Broadband for Good, please contact us at broadbandforgood@inveneo.org.

How Better Connectivity Can Help Dadaab, the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 6, 2012 in the categories: News, Projects, Relief

The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years have threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa since early 2011. Refugees from Somalia continue to arrive in Kenya by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex now the world’s largest refugee camp ever with almost 500,000 counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered.

UNHCR (the UN High Commission for Refugees) is the lead agency responding to this crisis, and many major humanitarian agencies including Care, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee are operating in Dadaab providing critical services such as food distribution, housing, sanitation and medical relief. The teams are stretched to their limits. To make matters even more difficult Al Shabaab, the Somali-based terrorist group, recently escalated its activities in and around the camps, making the operations more dangerous for the refugees and the agencies providing vital assistance.

How Better Connectivity Can Help

In the fall of 2011, Inveneo was invited by NetHope, a consortium of 34 member Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and the USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Program to identify opportunities to bring better, more reliable Internet and interagency communications to the many humanitarian agencies working in the region. Inveneo and NetHope mobilized teams to travel to arid northeast Kenya, to assess the situation in detail, and to determine what could be accomplished.

On the ground in Dadaab, it was clear from the United Nations (UN) and NGO community that bringing incremental, reliable and affordable Internet access would lead to better overall communications, coordination and security thereby increasing the staff capacity to deliver critical and life-sustaining food, housing, sanitation and medical care. Inveneo, working with Cisco’s TacOps could install and configure a local high-speed network, the Dadaab organizations could immediately begin to collaborate and share information more effectively. An existing UNHCR-led network initiative for smaller NGOs and community centers needed to be reviewed substantively to ensure that any new networking designs would be compatible, complimentary and synergistic.

NetHope, Inveneo and TacOps obtained commitments from Cisco to donate equipment, and from USAID and UNHCR to provide funding. It was determined that there were two major areas where Inveneo could bring technical and strategic expertise to make a real difference.

  1. First, we initiated and led a strategic business and engineering partnership with Orange, a local Kenyan mobile and landline telecommunications service provider, to extend new data services into the Dadaab compound using our long-distance WiFi solutions. NetHope aggregated the demand for the new service among the Dadaab aid community, and we secured agreement from Orange to a preferred pricing arrangement as well as to adequate initial and ongoing capacity. Orange is making their highly reliable Internet connectivity available by providing backhaul from their existing Dadaab tower to international fiber networks. We designed a detailed, local distribution network and training plan to enable Orange and prequalified Dadaab IT staff to quickly grasp, support and connect to the Inveneo-designed access solutions.
  2. Second, Inveneo and TacOps would co-design a high-speed network to connect the Dadaab agencies locally and to enable bandwidth-intensive, intra-agency collaboration technologies like file sharing, video conferencing designed by Cisco and voice over IP telephony applications. This collaboration network, DadaabNET, would also provide a Cisco router-based failover configuration to switch agency traffic to a 4-Mbps, UNHCR-provided satellite system in the event of primary connection failure. This effort involved IP addressing and configuration support from both Cisco and Inveneo as well as consultative engineering support from UNHCR and the Dadaab Aid Agency IT staff.

Status and Results

Inveneo’s work was successfully completed in March 2012. During the week of March 12, we trained in-country technical teams from Orange, from the Dadaab-based NGO technical staff, and from our local Inveneo Certified ICT Partner Setright. Orange hosted the classroom training session in Nairobi that provided hands-on instruction on long distance WiFi. We offered our custom practical curriculum in both network design and installation. Then the training moved outside to physically install equipment on buildings and way up on an Orange telecommunications tower. Inveneo has a strong partnership with Petzl to share safe climbing at height techniques in developing countries with communications workers. The trainings were held in Nairobi because a risk assessment determined Dadaab too insecure at that time.

During the week of March 19, Inveneo, NetHope, Setright and Cisco’s local gold partner Dimension Data teams traveled to Dadaab. Monday and Tuesday, our team worked side-by-side with the newly trained NGO, Orange and Setright teams in Dadaab, giving them the guidance and confidence to successfully complete the Orange and UNHCR tower installations.

The Orange tower is the hub for the access network and the UNHCR tower is the hub for DadaabNET. Dimension Data was also busy meeting with IT staff at the installation sites: consulting with Cisco-led TacOps engineers, training local staff and completing the initial router configurations.

As part of the training and skills building plan, we left Dadaab late Tuesday afternoon to cover training the Orange Network Operations Center in Nairobi. While away, the six newly trained agency staff were charged with the installation of Customer Premise Equipment for both the access and DadaabNET networks. The team includes staff from UNHCR, World Food Program, Norwegian Refugee Counsel, Care, Oxfam and Kenya Red Cross so it was truly an interagency support group. The expectation was that four or five sites could be installed, and then reviewed and verified after our return. On Thursday in Dadaab, we found our expectations were far exceeded.

The DadaabNET team installed 19 radios at ten agency locations. For two days, we verified the work and fine-tuned the implementations. Future installs and troubleshooting can now be completed by the local IT team with our team positioned to provide remote support for existing and ongoing humanitarian agency installations. The DadaabNET team has taken full ownership of the networks.

All future troubleshooting, support and installations will be managed frontline by the local DadaabNET interagency team. By the same count, Dimension Data, working with Cisco TacOps successfully implemented and tested routing at all ten newly installed locations and ensured a good hand-off to the DadaabNET team.

The initial bandwidth contracted was fully installed. Orange is on track to add triple the amount available to keep pace with demand and to meet new service order expectations.

This connectivity is already enabling the humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate between agencies, and to support overall operations. They also have plans to move more costly VSAT systems to failover mode. As the new network architecture is tried and proven to be more reliable and cost effective, it will be extended to the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement and economic empowerment.

As a result of this project, Inveneo, Cisco, NetHope and Orange will also continue to grow their partnerships and collaborations so that there will be ever increasing opportunities to extend broadband across rural Kenya and beyond.

The Dadaab Connect project is funded by Inveneo’s Broadband for Good Program, Cisco, Microsoft, NetHope, Craig Newmark, the Orr Family Foundation, UNHCR, and USAID’s Global Broadband Innovations Program.

How Better Connectivity Can Help Dadaab, the World's Largest Refugee Camp

  1. Posted by sguser on June 6, 2012 in the categories: News, Projects, Relief

The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years have threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa since early 2011. Refugees from Somalia continue to arrive in Kenya by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex now the world’s largest refugee camp ever with almost 500,000 counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered.

UNHCR (the UN High Commission for Refugees) is the lead agency responding to this crisis, and many major humanitarian agencies including Care, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee are operating in Dadaab providing critical services such as food distribution, housing, sanitation and medical relief. The teams are stretched to their limits. To make matters even more difficult Al Shabaab, the Somali-based terrorist group, recently escalated its activities in and around the camps, making the operations more dangerous for the refugees and the agencies providing vital assistance.

How Better Connectivity Can Help

In the fall of 2011, Inveneo was invited by NetHope, a consortium of 34 member Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and the USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Program to identify opportunities to bring better, more reliable Internet and interagency communications to the many humanitarian agencies working in the region. Inveneo and NetHope mobilized teams to travel to arid northeast Kenya, to assess the situation in detail, and to determine what could be accomplished.

On the ground in Dadaab, it was clear from the United Nations (UN) and NGO community that bringing incremental, reliable and affordable Internet access would lead to better overall communications, coordination and security thereby increasing the staff capacity to deliver critical and life-sustaining food, housing, sanitation and medical care. Inveneo, working with Cisco’s TacOps could install and configure a local high-speed network, the Dadaab organizations could immediately begin to collaborate and share information more effectively. An existing UNHCR-led network initiative for smaller NGOs and community centers needed to be reviewed substantively to ensure that any new networking designs would be compatible, complimentary and synergistic.

NetHope, Inveneo and TacOps obtained commitments from Cisco to donate equipment, and from USAID and UNHCR to provide funding. It was determined that there were two major areas where Inveneo could bring technical and strategic expertise to make a real difference.

  1. First, we initiated and led a strategic business and engineering partnership with Orange, a local Kenyan mobile and landline telecommunications service provider, to extend new data services into the Dadaab compound using our long-distance WiFi solutions. NetHope aggregated the demand for the new service among the Dadaab aid community, and we secured agreement from Orange to a preferred pricing arrangement as well as to adequate initial and ongoing capacity. Orange is making their highly reliable Internet connectivity available by providing backhaul from their existing Dadaab tower to international fiber networks. We designed a detailed, local distribution network and training plan to enable Orange and prequalified Dadaab IT staff to quickly grasp, support and connect to the Inveneo-designed access solutions.
  2. Second, Inveneo and TacOps would co-design a high-speed network to connect the Dadaab agencies locally and to enable bandwidth-intensive, intra-agency collaboration technologies like file sharing, video conferencing designed by Cisco and voice over IP telephony applications. This collaboration network, DadaabNET, would also provide a Cisco router-based failover configuration to switch agency traffic to a 4-Mbps, UNHCR-provided satellite system in the event of primary connection failure. This effort involved IP addressing and configuration support from both Cisco and Inveneo as well as consultative engineering support from UNHCR and the Dadaab Aid Agency IT staff.

Status and Results

Inveneo’s work was successfully completed in March 2012. During the week of March 12, we trained in-country technical teams from Orange, from the Dadaab-based NGO technical staff, and from our local Inveneo Certified ICT Partner Setright. Orange hosted the classroom training session in Nairobi that provided hands-on instruction on long distance WiFi. We offered our custom practical curriculum in both network design and installation. Then the training moved outside to physically install equipment on buildings and way up on an Orange telecommunications tower. Inveneo has a strong partnership with Petzl to share safe climbing at height techniques in developing countries with communications workers. The trainings were held in Nairobi because a risk assessment determined Dadaab too insecure at that time.

During the week of March 19, Inveneo, NetHope, Setright and Cisco’s local gold partner Dimension Data teams traveled to Dadaab. Monday and Tuesday, our team worked side-by-side with the newly trained NGO, Orange and Setright teams in Dadaab, giving them the guidance and confidence to successfully complete the Orange and UNHCR tower installations.

The Orange tower is the hub for the access network and the UNHCR tower is the hub for DadaabNET. Dimension Data was also busy meeting with IT staff at the installation sites: consulting with Cisco-led TacOps engineers, training local staff and completing the initial router configurations.

As part of the training and skills building plan, we left Dadaab late Tuesday afternoon to cover training the Orange Network Operations Center in Nairobi. While away, the six newly trained agency staff were charged with the installation of Customer Premise Equipment for both the access and DadaabNET networks. The team includes staff from UNHCR, World Food Program, Norwegian Refugee Counsel, Care, Oxfam and Kenya Red Cross so it was truly an interagency support group. The expectation was that four or five sites could be installed, and then reviewed and verified after our return. On Thursday in Dadaab, we found our expectations were far exceeded.

The DadaabNET team installed 19 radios at ten agency locations. For two days, we verified the work and fine-tuned the implementations. Future installs and troubleshooting can now be completed by the local IT team with our team positioned to provide remote support for existing and ongoing humanitarian agency installations. The DadaabNET team has taken full ownership of the networks.

All future troubleshooting, support and installations will be managed frontline by the local DadaabNET interagency team. By the same count, Dimension Data, working with Cisco TacOps successfully implemented and tested routing at all ten newly installed locations and ensured a good hand-off to the DadaabNET team.

The initial bandwidth contracted was fully installed. Orange is on track to add triple the amount available to keep pace with demand and to meet new service order expectations.

This connectivity is already enabling the humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate between agencies, and to support overall operations. They also have plans to move more costly VSAT systems to failover mode. As the new network architecture is tried and proven to be more reliable and cost effective, it will be extended to the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement and economic empowerment.

As a result of this project, Inveneo, Cisco, NetHope and Orange will also continue to grow their partnerships and collaborations so that there will be ever increasing opportunities to extend broadband across rural Kenya and beyond.

The Dadaab Connect project is funded by Inveneo’s Broadband for Good Program, Cisco, Microsoft, NetHope, Craig Newmark, the Orr Family Foundation, UNHCR, and USAID’s Global Broadband Innovations Program.

Inveneo Awarded the Internet Now! Project in Uganda

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 5, 2012 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects

Inveneo has been selected for the Internet infrastructure segment of the newly launched Internet Now! Project in Uganda. Working with Oxfam Novib, Arid Lands Information Network, and Samasource, Inveneo will provide computer hardware and Internet connection to 100 planned ICT work centers, all of which are targeted for rural Northern Ugandan regions.

The Internet Now! project aims to implement 100 ICT work centers, that will offer outsourced ICT data services, wireless Internet access via a wireless café hotspot model, and services such as agricultural education and crop pricing information. All of this with the goal to generate increased income and employment in rural communities of northern Uganda.

The network of 100 ICT centers will cover a total population of 872,000 people in the districts of Adjumani, Amuru/Gulu and Moyo. Each center will have two fully equipped and renovated rooms with 10 PC workstations for visitors to use. All centers will be stand-alone solar powered, independent from a grid, and are staffed with a Field Officer and two Knowledge Facilitators, who will provide training and support to center visitors.

Inveneo in conjunction with CLS Ltd., an Inveneo Certified ICT Partner in Uganda, will deploy energy-efficient, high performance computers and reliable Internet connections at each center. In addition, Inveneo will lead the network backbone planning and negotiations with Ugandan ISP’s and wireless carriers.

Inveneo is excited to be part of the Internet Now! project as it will bring Internet connectivity and employment opportunities to an area of Africa where such needs and potential benefits are great.

Announcing the launch and Google funding of Inveneo’s Broadband for Good Program

  1. Posted by Inveneo on December 14, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, Education, Healthcare, News

Inveneo is pleased to announce the launch of our newest program, Broadband for Good™, as well as a $2 Million Google grant in support of this three-year initiative. The goal of Broadband for Good (BB4G) is to catalyze and accelerate availability of high-quality broadband Internet connectivity in rural and under-served regions across the developing world, where it can transform lives through improved education, healthcare and economic opportunity.

Inveneo developed the concept for the Broadband for Good initiative through our experience in deploying broadband and ICT projects in Haiti, Palestine and East Africa and with seed funding from Cisco in 2011-12. These projects have highlighted not just the urgent need for broadband access in marginalized areas, but also the real opportunity to accelerate and expand access through a replicable framework that addresses the main challenges to sustainable broadband in low resource settings. Inveneo is uniquely positioned to spearhead this effort.

Key elements of the Broadband for Good framework include:

  • Low-cost Technology – We leverage new, low-cost networking technology options to minimize capital requirement.
  • Demand Mobilization – We identify and qualify prospective anchor tenants to assess real demand and ensure maximum utilization.
  • Local Carriers as Partners – We partner with in-country service providers to extend their reach to rural users.
  • Open/Shared Access – We employ open access and shared network infrastructure to lower costs and drive local network governance models.
  • Capacity Building – We grow the ability of local entrepreneurs to deliver and support the network. This helps ensure sustainability and adds to the greater local tech economy and ecosystem in each of the countries where we work.

In 2012, Broadband for Good will focus on three goals:

  • Establishing a team of internal and external experts who will formalize and evolve the framework for use in multiple settings.
  • Building a collaborative alliance of organizations and individuals with a shared vision and the technical/organizational capacity to accelerate access to broadband in currently marginalized areas.
  • Identifying and rapidly deploying regional demonstration projects.

Beyond 2012, the Broadband for Good initiative and alliance will be well positioned to partner with governments and other interested organizations to roll out country-wide rural broadband initiatives. Google’s $2m grant is key to the initial development of the program’s methodology, alliance formation and early field projects.

If you are interested in supporting or partnering with Inveneo on the Broadband for Good initiative, please contact us at broadbandforgood@inveneo.org. Come join us as we change the world for the better through broadband.