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sábado, 28 de mayo de 2016

Bringing information to the masses via solar-powered Internet access via TV White Space by MICROSOFT


By Aimee Riordan   Via MICROSOFT NEWS CENTER

“Without the Internet, it’s like living in darkness,” says Benson Maina, who runs the town of Nanyuki’s Internet café out of a 20-foot shipping container.

“My main duty is to communicate to the community, in terms of the Internet, the advantages they can get from it,” he says.

Affable and outgoing, Maina, 35, is the perfect ambassador.
To say the container, sunshine yellow, with an electric blue roof, stands out along this quiet road in rural Kenya is understatement. If cheap access to the Internet wasn’t enough of a draw, its alien appearance in this African landscape would be.

The container is powered by local company Mawingu, which provides Internet access via underutilized broadcast bandwidth, called TV white spaces. It’s part of a broader effort, by Microsoft and partners, to connect rural communities in Kenya and beyond.

For the people who come to Maina’s café, having Internet access that’s reliable and affordable is opening doors and creating opportunities.

“Bringing the Internet connection to the community… People never knew the possibilities, but now they have the whole world in their hands,” Maina says. “The people who use the solar cyber are working-class people who need a place to work. They’re also village people who don’t have much Internet competence. We help them learn.”

Many of his patrons come every day. They’re students, studying or applying to universities; farmers checking forecasts and crop prices; and budding entrepreneurs, earning a living transcribing or posting to social sites on behalf of others. They stay anywhere from two to eight hours.

“We also have job seekers,” Maina says. “People around here believe they’re so behind. They think the people who live in cities will always be on top. Power comes from having information.”

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