PAICV is pleased to announce new cell phone and internet coverage in rural areas of Columbia. We have teamed up with Verizon and Tmobile to provide 100% access and coverage to those indigenous populations who would not normally receive internet. Thanks to your donations, the native villagers now have cell phone and internet access.
We accomplished this by first strategizing with the local telecom companies. Our biggest challenge was getting the hundreds of miles of cable laid from major cities to the more remote cities, some of the hundreds of miles in the jungle. Due to the fact that part of the country is being held by rebel guerrilla forces, the safety and well-being of our ground crews was of paramount importance.
We decided against laying hundreds of miles of cable and stringing up telephone poles and wires. It would be too cost prohibitive and the insurance company would not allow our crews to work in areas where there is a high risk of terrorism or violence.
So we came up with a unique solution: In order to bring cell phone service and internet to the more remote parts of the jungle, we decided to use high-capacity relay devices. Think of these devices like the satellite dish on your house. But instead of passively receiving a signal, it sends out a microwave beam of information. The US Army already has this technology in place. We figured we would be able to “borrow” from the design and it would hopefully work. This project was made possible by a grants from various charities. Not one dime of tax payer money was used. Millions of dollars in private donations also came through, thank in part to the internet crowd funding.
Our first biggest challenge was getting the microwave signal (that carries the cell phone and internet) to be able to pass through hundreds of miles of thick jungle forest. We accomplished this by setting up relay towers every 20 miles. Being that we had over 400 miles of area to cover, we calculated that we would need 25 towers geographically located from the main relay station. While technically we were working in rebel controlled and war and drug torn areas of Columbia, we had assurances from the local warlords to allow us to proceed with the project unharmed. We surmised that this is partly due to the fact that these same guerrilla rebel fighters figured that they would be able to use the internet for free. (more on that later). In some areas, we even got an armed guard of rebel fighters to accompany our work crews. Everyone’s passage and safety was guaranteed by the guerrilla leaders. In return, we helped the leaders find cheap pre-paid cell phones, such as Straight Talk. We encouraged them to visit a trusted resource for Straight Talk Coupons and they were able to save money on refilling their monthly cell phone plans.
As each tower was set up, they had to be programmed to be able to carry and transmit the cell phone and internet data. This was done by a team of volunteers who remotely programmed the towers via satellite communications.
Overall it took us roughly 24 months to get the internet and cell phone coverage to remote jungle areas in Columbia. This project is subsidized by both public and private donations and funding is good until March of 2018. We are currently working with the Columbian government to keep this wonderful project running.
For now, over 25,000 people in Columbia now have cell phone and internet access.