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Video Michigan State Professor Helps Bring Broadband Internet To Rural Africa (Video) 86

Roblimo writes "Assistant Professor Kurt DeMaagd, of Michigan State's Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, runs a program that brings broadband Internet to villages in Tanzania that have never known connectivity better than what they get with non-smart cell phones. Lots of students are involved, and Kurt (who was one of Slashdot's co-founders many years ago) believes the students get as much out of the project as the people in Tanzania who are its primary beneficiaries. Setting up not only computer networks but also satellite communications and solar arrays in areas where you can't zip on down to the local computer or hardware store for parts you forgot teaches how to work under adverse conditions, and how to plan in advance instead of winging everything at the last minute. But we'll let Kurt DeMaagd, who is an engaging speaker, tell the story himself in this long (8:12) video."
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Michigan State Professor Helps Bring Broadband Internet To Rural Africa (Video)

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  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:26AM (#39521785)

    I'm all for these sorts of projects, just keep in mind that the idealistic do-gooder mentality of "They're all going to use this wonderful internet for education and uplift" needs to be tempered with a realization that these are real people you're dealing with, not characters in some fairy tale narrative you've created in your own head. Understand that some of them are going to use it for education. But some are also going to use it to scam, surf porn, download shitty Nicolas Cage movies, and play games. So don't throw a hissy-fit and abandon the project the second you find out that you're dealing with real human beings who aren't always going to use your wonderful gift to do what YOU want them to.

    Remember that these are real autonomous human beings just like you, and don't idealize them as some abstraction.

    • They're going to use it for porn, then they're going to descend into a pit of despair as they realize how much their lives suck as they compare Africa to every single other place. ... This is actually sort of a cruel joke isn't it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kdemaagd ( 2607231 )
      We are pretty open and aware of their actual use. We (try to) block porn and a lot of video stuff because it chews up the bandwidth. Still, a vast majority of their use is not educational. They use it a lot for email, and facebook has really taken off in the last year. In many cases, they are just happy to be able to randomly surf the Internet while they charge their cell phones for free from our solar system. We do our best to provide educational resources and guide them towards productive uses of the
    • by PPH ( 736903 )
      But in rural Michigan, they are just potential customers.
    • download shitty Nicolas Cage movies,

      LMAO! Seriously.....in other news....next year he plans to bring broadband internet to rural America.

  • Rural Michigan? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ewg ( 158266 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:30AM (#39521837)

    How about bringing broadband to rural Michigan?!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Your Merrykin religion of 'Free Market Forces' takes care of that.

    • There are PLENTY of places in the rural United States that would love better connectivity. But I guess those places are tied too tightly to the ISPs. They are doing it for a better quality of life while here in the States we worry too much about making our money back in a timely manner, ("What?! You mean it'll be 5 years until that infrastructure is paid for?!") so a lot of people really do miss out.
      • by saider ( 177166 )

        To be fair, payback times for rural deployments can stretch into decades. Usually, county government uses a big-city contract to ensure the connection for the outlying areas. However many rural areas have no big city nearby to balance it out. If there is no payout for the company, then they cannot be expected to do it.

        In these cases, a government owned company can deploy it using state and federal grants.

        • In these cases, a government owned company can deploy it using state and federal grants.

          Except that those same service providers that refuse to service that market have, in other similar instances, and very likely would again, scream bloody murder about government's "unfair competition" and promptly tie up any such proposal in endless lawsuits.

          Google for "municipal broadband lawsuits".


        • Then they get sued by the cable company

    • How about bringing broadband to rural Michigan?!

      Obviously, you have to ask the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at the University of Dar es Salaam.

    • How about bringing broadband to rural Michigan?!

      We have stuff going on in rural Michigan too, but that's a different project.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by quetwo ( 1203948 )

      The TISM department at MSU has had a long-standing program to build out rural networks in Michigan. They've spawned a few companies (AllBand, to name one that I did some work with) that are CLECs or ILECs in the upper-lower peninsula. The biggest problem MSU/TISM runs into is that a lot of areas are already locked up by AT&T / Verizon / Centrytel / etc. who make sure that non-profits and psudo-government agencies can't provide internet access without a long, drawn-out legal fight.

  • But what about Rural Michigan ?

    If they want to impress me they will improve their own back yards before pond skipping.

  • >> Kurt (who was one of Slashdot's co-founders many years ago)

    AKA Commander Fajita

  • So, this explains my increase in emails from African Monarchs who just need my bank account number and $1000 to buy the equipment needed to finish the trek to the vast fortunes they hid when being invaded by terrorists, which they will then deposit into my account after they get it!
  • What about rural America? Half the people in this country are still on fucking dial-up.
    • Which problem should be addressed first the access or the cost?

      • by PPH ( 736903 )
        Its not the cost, its the price. In rural Africa, the villagers are poor. So there's no point in attempting to extract more money from them. In rural Michigan, people are much wealthier. And they can afford to cough up more for such a service. So until they are willing to do so, they get no broadband.
        • Because Rural people are rich. While country folks here in the US might be wealthy by African Standards, they aren't all that much better off.
  • ...ll the villagers will read the news on their iPad 2 while milking the goats and gathering honey.

    • And the news will tell them their local politician took a bribe so they'll end up with better leadership, closer international cooperation, and an extra goat next year. And that there's a bumper crop of corn in the US so they'll plant cotton this year. And that their child's cleft palate can be fixed by a local clinic almost free. Not that I don't think most of it will be porn but don't underestimate the power of information.
      • I don't know if I should laugh at your enthusiasm or cry because of your ignorance. Corrupt leaders that you talk about are not going to let locals read that kind of information on the internet. Hell, I doubt they will even let them have elections.

        Access to crop reports in the US? Like that is going to help. To be able to make use of that data they would have to be able to farm competitively with other nations. Most of them are not even on the standards for farming in the 19th century, let alone th

        • Sir, you are well named.

          My South African friend was sure a particularly evil politician would stay in power in an election we were looking at. He was voted out in a landslide partly because of informed voters. (UN control of voting booths helped a lot too.)

          African farmers are increasingly able to make use of modern farming methods. This too is due to the information age. B2B sales of farming equipment and open markets, global competition, and training via the internet have all played their part.

  • He's not an English Language professor, anyway!

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:55AM (#39522139)

    Geez, we still don't have broadband in large parts of Michigan. Dialup is still a reality, not a bad memory (as it should be) for many people - some of whom are nestled within the populous southeastern quarter of the lower peninsula.

    • by quetwo ( 1203948 )

      You can thank your local and state governments for giving into the Telcos for that one. Why invest in an area when you can just politic the PUC or the local governments to allow you to not honor your word, or ignore entire areas of your exclusive footprint...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's great and all that this guy brought broadband to Tanzania , but why didn't Tanzanians do it?

  • Title: MSU professor Kurt [DeMaagd] Helps bring Broadband Internet to Rural Africa
    Description: Kurt (who was one of Slashdot's co-founders many years ago) believes his students get as much out of the broadband project as the people in Tanzania who are its primary beneficiaries.

    [00:00] <TITLE>
    The SlashdotTV logo bar with "Bringing broadband Internet to Rural Tanzania" appears in the bottom over a still image from the interview with Professor Kurt DeMaagd. The backdrop is a white room with a "2001: a s

  • He can bring broadband to rural Africa, but he cant bring broadband to rural Michigan. Most of Michigan has ZERO broadband in the rural areas.

  • Who cares about food when you got porn..I mean Internet.
  • This is a really good ste., All those poor women in Nigeria will have a chance to emails to rest of the world to help with there ransom.

  • It's a great buzz idea. I wish for our work (NGO) there that this could be a viable solution to the "last 100km problem." But...the solution isn't scalable in any significant way (cost, training, support) and while he has identified the need for support as the key factor, I didn't see a viable solution. That's why there are so many people interested in cellular networks and tools - check out mPESA in Kenya - 13 million people sending > $400million per month using SMS micropayments. Now there's a solut
  • Ever heard of two countries called China and India? Among the most powerful growing economies in the world today? Billions of people lifted out of poverty and beggary? Manufacturing industry beefed up to the point where the west can't compete? Wanna know how they did it? With education. Better information. Embracing new technology. Industrial policy and a skilled workforce. They didn't do it with social programs. Enough of the "b-b-b-but they need to get running water and healthcare and food first" cra

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva