Green Wi-Fi, a non-profit organization that aims to bring Internet access to schools in developing countries via cheap, solar-powered Wi-Fi networks, plans to start its first full-scale pilot project in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh at the end of the summer, reports News.com. Green Wi-Fi will be doing the India project for a Canadian aid organization that has asked for Wi-Fi in three schools in the northern Indian state where electricity is unreliable. One of these schools has a cable connection.
The concept behind Green Wi-Fi’s technology is to have a battery-powered router — charged by a solar panel — in each node in its Wi-Fi network. The nodes are mounted on rooftops and the network’s Wi-Fi signals are transferred over a grid using a wireless network standard known as 802.11b/g.
The company has received seed money from Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child Initiative (OLPC) that, interestingly, was recently rejected by the Indian government for being “pedagogically suspect.” According to Kaumudi, an Indian newspaper, the country’s education secretary Sudeep Banerjee said that giving schoolchildren a laptop each could harm their creative thinking and analytical abilities.
Green Wi-Fi doesn’t seem to have heard this particular take on the OLPC initiative. “We’ve heard that the strongest criticism they (OLPC) get when they evangelize their laptop is ‘What do you do about the network?’ If you have a computer but no Internet, you can play games and do spreadsheets, but accessing the world’s information is really where the value is,” co-founder Marc Pomerlau told News.com. We wonder what Banerjee will say about schoolchildren being given Internet access.