How to Solve Wireless Dead Zones in Rural Areas

deadzoneThis is a pretty clever solution to people who live in areas that don’t have decent cell phone coverage.  A postdoctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley, combined a Linux computer, a 900 MHz power amplifier, and a 2G cellular-network antenna to create a microwave-size box called Endaga CCN1. For $6,000, you can plug in power and an Internet connection, mount the unit to a tree or pole and you now have the ability to connect up to 1,000 people within a six-mile radius ot a wireless network.  This new technological gadget essentially allows you to be the “telephone company” or, more specifically, create a community cellular network.  It is especially applicable for sparsely populated areas that lack access to reliable phone and Internet service.

Endaga recently completed a $1.2 million round of seed funding to help it advance its mission of bringing cellular access to more than 1 billion people around the world who don’t have it.  It is seen as particularly valuable for remote villages in other countries.   However, there are a number of places within the U.S. and even in San Diego County where “dead zones” make cell service unavailable.

Endaga’s not a total solution; its box only provides regular old cellular–emphasis on old, as in 2.5G GSM/GPRS and it uses people’s existing phones in extremely remote communities.  So while not a perfect solution, it’s a pretty decent one given the modest price. Less expensive options include power wi-fi systems and femtocells, but they lack the coverage radius;  most only provide service for a few hundred feet, rather than 6 miles.  If you need greater coverage, Endaga may be worth your attention.

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