Internet without Internet

November 23, 2020 Off By jaykayenn

Pic by Sambau Dugat via Borneo Post

Stories of school kids making treacherous journeys through remote jungles to get Internet access have made the news again. After decades of neglect, we can’t expect to keep waiting forever for national policy to build out network infrastructure in these neglected regions. 

Building broadband infrastructure is an understandably expensive endevour, requiring government support and large corporate investments. Though we humble citizens are ill-equipped to build such services ourselves (the main stumbling block being access to the national internet gateways), that shouldn’t stop us from providing digital content, at least in the context of primary education. 

NetBox for Education

In direct response to this concern, I’m building a mini server device that provides massive amounts of educational content over a local WiFi network. Everything will be baked into a single self-sufficient package that runs on USB power, requiring no maintenance or network coverage. 

With this device, anyone can have full access to websites like Wikipedia, TED, Gutenberg, and Khan Academy through any device with a web browser. (The kids all seemed to have laptops and smartphones, so access shouldn’t be a problem). That’s millions of articles, images, and videos. This mini-server can also provide services like worldwide street maps, cloud storage/file sharing, and even Learning Management Systems for running online courses. 

Funding progress – Development
1000
1000
Funding progress – Production & Deployment
10000
8139

What would it cost? Oh, about MYR500. The device can be shipped anywhere, and be up and running by plugging in a USB power cable. It generates it’s own WiFi hotspot which can serve a large classroom, or an even larger open compound. More coverage can be added with the use of cheap WiFi routers and repeaters. Sure beats a 2-hour trek in the jungles, to be sure. 

How to make this happen

It will take a couple weeks to build the prototypes and neccessary testing. While it won’t cost millions of dollars, all this does still cost money. Development will cost MYR1,000, which includes the first production device, ready to deploy. Further deployments should be easy to replicate, at the aforementioned cost of approx MYR500 (not counting logistics and custom site requirements).

I’m welcoming pledges from the public to get this off the ground. Email jason@jkn.media (or contact me elsewhere if you know it) with your details and indication of your sponsorship, be it personal or corporate. No funds will be collected until each phase/sponsored site is confirmed. All expenses will be published here for transparency.  

If you’re happy to make a direct contribution, you may do so via PayPal here: https://paypal.me/jaykayenn 

Funding progress – Development
1000
1000
Funding progress – Production & Deployment
10000
8139

Meanwhile, the project needs awareness to gain support and reach the communities. Even if you can’t contribute directly, someone in your network knows someone who can. Please share and spread the word. 

Read more: Update #1