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Afghans Build Open Source Internet From Trash 140

An anonymous reader writes "Residents of Jalalabad have built the FabFi network: an open-source system that uses common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles."
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Afghans Build Open Source Internet From Trash

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  • by andreyvul ( 1176115 ) <andrey.vul@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday June 26, 2011 @02:25AM (#36574312)

    For the win. P2P win, that is.

  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toze ( 1668155 ) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @02:36AM (#36574352)

    This is the reason I'm proud to call myself a geek. This is why I contribute to groups like EFF. This is why I tinker with networking hardware and try out Maker projects, even though I'm a software guy, and not necessarily a great one- because I'm sharing in the culture that can build a digital commons in the middle of the desert in one of the most war-torn regions of the planet using /scrap/. I mean, I'm sure Afghanistan is a great country, but the neighborhood's kinda rough- I have nothing but pride and admiration for FabFi and the people of Afghanistan.

    It's probably going to get slashdotted pretty quick, so I'm going to copypasta some of their front page stuff here, and provide some of the links from their homepage at [];

    FabFi is an open-source, FabLab-grown system using common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles. With Fabfi, communities can build their own wireless networks to gain high-speed internet connectivity---thus enabling them to access online educational, medical, and other resources.

    In the summer of 2010, the Fab team set out to show that Fabfi could be both reliable and sustainable. Choosing Kenya as a pilot site Fabfolk seeded three Fablab students with the hardware to begin deploying a network as a community-operated business.

    FabFi is a user-extensible long range point-to-point and mesh hybrid-wireless broadband transmission infrastructure. It is based on the simple idea that a network of simple, intelligent, interconnected devices can create reliable networks in unstable environments. We use simple physics to make low-cost devices communicate directionally for very long distances (physics is cool!), and flexible configurations to adapt to a large variety of conditions.

    They build their own parabolic dishes to increase antenna gain, much like the coffee-cantennas, wok-antennas, and pringles-cantennas we've all heard of.

    Their blog is at []
    Their Facebook page is at []

  • Semantics maybe... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by EricX2 ( 670266 ) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @02:49AM (#36574376) Homepage Journal

    They made a WAN using wireless technology. Big fucking deal. And don't say that 'they are in a third world country so it's a big deal'. It isn't about money when it comes to technology, it is about brains, it doesn't always require money to be smart. I'm sure everybody I know makes more money than most people in Afghanistan and not a single one of them could do this, so money makes people dumb as far as I can tell.

    When are people going to realize that making a big deal about what country a person is from when they do something is a big reason for xenophobia. All humans have the same genes and therefore the same ability to do the same exact thing. It shouldn't matter if you are from California or Zimbabwe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2011 @03:12AM (#36574452)

    I respect the Afghan ingenuity. It might be in some future point and time that the combination of laws (broadcast copyrights to lock down the public domain, ACTA, son-of-ACTA, COICA, etc.) combined with ISP interest in trying to make a buck from anything, and the fact that it will be easy for people to become persona non grats (and denied access to the Internet) will end up forcing people in the US to do exactly what is being done overseas.

    Want to watch that YouTube video without paying your ISP for a "non premium visited site" fee, a streaming video fee, a fee per second, etc? The Afghan system may be the only way for you to see it, or any content not sanitized and sterilized by Big Media.

    It might be that the *only* thing that will stop the Internet becoming like Compuserve (or more accurately Prodigy because Prodigy required each post to be reviewed and pass a censor before being able to be read) would be technology like this.

    Plus, LAN stuff is cheap. A wireless router for a subnet is dirt cheap. Wi-Fi is quite inexpensive compared to WAN stuff.

    If people started adding point to point links coupled with caching and other techniques to keep as much traffic on the LAN as possible, we (as in people who want to use the Internet for more than a passive TV and want content other than what Fox News wants to present us), this is something we really need here in the US as well.

    Of course, latency will be hell and gone, but that's better than no connection at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2011 @03:25AM (#36574492)

    Nice sensationalist headline, with a summary that contradicts it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2011 @03:42AM (#36574540)

    Wow, buddy, you're so ignorant (OK, or just uninformed, in that case sorry), you're not even worth getting angry about. Cause that's just sad.

    Imagine growing up in a small town, where having a wire out of the wall to connect your radio to, and a water wheel in the small creek outside generating the electricity, is considered a luxury. With lots of space for few people.
    Your dad died when you were very young. And all that he left you, was his AK-47. And although that may be a lie, you love that gun more than anything else. Because with it, you are respected. You feel like a man.
    If you have the luck of going to a school at all, it would be at a level of at least 50 years ago, if it weren't mainly "teaching" religious stuff.
    You are trained in fighting, since you can't remember a time, when there was not war and murder. You lost brothers and sisters, some even were tortured. (Not your sissy waterboarding stuff either.) And the US just set up Kharzai again, who was such a giant asshole, that the Taliban looked good in comparison, which is why they came to power in the first place.
    So his drug lord brother started the "business" again. People rather plant poppy for heroine than vegetables for food, as it brings a multiple of the money. And even the police, who officially is supposed to destroy the fields, knows exactly that without them, the town would starve. So they play fake field destructions to fill their quota.
    Plus you are happy you didn't have to have a arranged marriage when you were 13, like your grandparents and probably even parents. But it's not much better with love.

    This is the world those guys grew up in. While you sat on the couch, munching cheese flips or some shit while watching TV and complaining to your mom about "having to" go to school in your average neighborhood.

    Seriously, if people ask me how my dad was when he was young, I honestly still am making a big understatement, when I just have to say one word and one number: Rambo 3.

    And you think you can compare yourself to these guys? No offense, but you wouldn't last a week. Just be happy, and save your country from the same fate, OK?

  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wgoodman ( 1109297 ) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @04:21AM (#36574668)

    If you were concerned about them getting slashdotted, why not provide a mirror link: [] instead of being the first person to post their actual page?

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham