The Internet, a ubiquitous and essential fixturein just about every developed nation, is slowly butsurely reaching into some of the world’s most remoteoutposts — courtesy of such companies as Intel, CiscoandEmbratel.
As part of World Ahead, a new initiative established earlierthis year to bring technology to developing areas,Intel has created a wireless high-speed Internetnetwork for inhabitants of a remote town on an islandin the Amazon River. Intel plans to invest more than US$1 billion in such projects over the next five years.
Closing the Gap
Parintins, Brazil, has roughly114,000 residents and all the trappings of a typicalsmall community, including a medical center, auniversity, a community center and, of course, schools.Through Intel’s World Ahead Program, these facilities arenow connected to the Internet. The university has also received telemedicine equipment that enables collaboration with outside institutions via videoconferencing and other high-tech tools.
“We’ve been blessed with this project,” said ParintinsMayor Frank Bi Garcia. “We’re really isolated anddon’t have the conditions to receive the Internet withcables. So we’re receiving it wireless, from antennas,from satellites — access to wireless Internet is agreat pleasure for us. This project will prepare thisgeneration for the future.”
This initiative is one of many Intel has launched in recent years in both developing nations and remote areas of developed countries. The company has similar projects underway in China, Vietnam, Egypt and Turkey, Intel spokesperson Agnes Kwan told TechNewsWorld. “Parintins is among our more interesting projects, but it is by no means the only one,” she said.
Intel and its partners wired the town’s facilities byinstalling a WiMAX network at the healthcare center, the two public schools, a community center and nearby Amazon University. WiMAX has a transmitting range of up to 30 miles. The wireless infrastructure also utilizes short-range WiFi technology.
Amazon University is using its newfound connectivityto start a telemedicine program developed jointly withthe medical school of Sao Paulo University, which also has received equipment donations from Intel.
Exporting the Model
Intel plans to replicate what it has done inthe Amazon in other isolated communities in Africa,Asia and the Middle East. Education — particularlytraining educators to use new technologies — is a keyfocus of the company’s plans.
In Parintins, for example,Intel has trained 24 teachers through its Intel TeachProgram. The company now wants to educateanother million teachers in Latin Americato better understand the effective use of technology in theclassroom.
Other participants in the project include Cisco, CPqD,Embratel, Proxim and the Bradesco Foundation, as wellas Amazonas State University, Amazonas FederalUniversity and Sao Paulo University.