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SolarNetOne: A Turnkey Internet Hotspot Design

By Wayan Vota on July 15, 2009

Here is another interesting approach to an all-in-one solar powered computer lab: SolarNetOne

SolarNetOne combines conditioned, renewable power; computers; WiFi; and a VSAT uplink to offer Internet connectivity where there was no existing power infrastructure. Designed by Scott Johnson, in consultation with Vint Cerf, the basic kit includes Open Source software, off the shelf components that can be replaced easily, all the cables and wires required to assemble the system, and costs about $15,000.

You can see a diagram here, and watch a video of Scott below:

But building the system and installing it are two different issues, as reported by Martin Streicher on IBM’s developerWorks:

The first SolarNetOne installation [at Katsina State University] in Nigeria remains in continuous operation and is used for e-mail, word processing, and Internet surfing. Except for an initial customs hiccup that stranded the system’s power hardware in Germany for several months, the system has suffered no major problems. It’s widely regarded as the most stable and reliable system in the region.

In point of fact, corruption is often the most significant impediment to deployment. Often, shady customs officials or other government employees can cause problems. Johnson reports that at least one deployment was scuttled by efforts of proprietary interests seeking greater “developing world market share.”

At Inveneo, we can relate to the issues around installation – that’s why we developed our local partner network, the Inveneo Certified ICT Partner Program. We see local ICT companies as the best, and only sustainable way to be sure that innovative ideas like SolarNetOne go from prototype to scale.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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