New Modem Will Help African Internet Access

A new modem is being designed specifically for use in Africa.

Announced at this month’s TEDGlobal Conference in Edinburgh, the modem is expected to allow a far greater degree of Internet connectivity across the continent.

The device, which has been officially named BRCK, will accomplish its goals by switching between Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and fixed broadband.

BRCK has been developed by Kenyan firm Ushahidi (which translates from Swahili as ‘testimony’). Ushahidi provide open-source software that is used throughout various African nations, as well as Japan and South America, amongst others.

Regular, uninterrupted Internet connectivity can be a frustrating prospect throughout the African continent.

Juliana Rotich, director of Ushahidi said, “While Africa may have joined the digital revolution and mobile is becoming ubiquitous, Internet connectivity is not always reliable and the price of connecting is high” she then added “We get online and then there is a power cut and we are plunged into darkness and the Internet connection goes down.”

The central idea behind BRCK was to design a modem that was Africa-specific, dealing with the various challenges presented by the continent.

In an effort to combat African electricity shortages, BRCK will allow African users to stay connected even when the power shorts out.

The BRCK will make use of an eight-hour battery, largely to overcome said power shortages, as well as special cloud-based software that allows the user to check WiFi signal strength and availability of electricity.

The modem will be able to connect to up to 20 devices at a time and is designed to be strong and durable when traversing harsh terrain. Ushahidi’s company motto is “if it works in Africa, it will work anywhere”

Essentially, BRCK works by making use of several networks instead of just one, making the odds of getting a signal that much better. An extra antenna, designed to boost signal strength, will be used for gaining Internet access in the more remote areas of the continent.

Ushahidi is hoping that this new product helps to spearhead a rise in the production of other Africa-specific hardware in the near future.

The BRCK proved to be a popular addition to the Edinburgh-based conference. It should be released in November with a price tag of £130. Pre order options are available now.

SOURCES:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22818596

http://www.ventures-africa.com/2013/06/new-kenyan-modem-to-speed-up-internet-connectivity/

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