Can you imagine a day without the internet? Today communication touches every aspect of our lives from social networking to business. We exploit information technology to enhance the learning experience through the use of the internet, supported by online initiatives such as podcasts and Virtual Learning Environments. However in countries such as Morocco, Thailand, India and Nepal, social and economic development is restricted by a lack of communications infrastructure.
The Aurora project aims to provide internet access to communities in rural areas, bringing key social benefits and enhancing learning. Run by a team of students from the Electrical & Electronic Engineering Department, we aim to achieve this objective by creating wireless networks, coupling long range transmitters with an existing electricity grid. The key is Wi-Max technology – offering a range of up to 10 km from a single router. By connecting Wi-Max routers in relays, we can get information to very remote locations.
Founded in October 2011, the progress has been remarkable. One of our team members went to Morocco last December and conducted a location feasibility study – which proved Wi-Max was viable to implement in the region. We have fostered excellent links in industry with Internet Service Providers, energy companies and RuggedCom – a specialist Canadian based company manufacturing Wi-Max products who are one of our close industrial partners.
Thanks to fantastic support from our department (in particular Dr Kristel Fobelets) and supervisor, Prof Kin Leung, a few of our team had the chance to visit the RuggedCom office in Lancaster and see Wi-max technology in action. We successfully managed to get a transmitter on loan which will enable us test the technical feasibility of the project right here in London. Therefore, our next step is to conduct a live field test by creating a Wi-Max network in Imperial College; we are in the process of completing licensing agreements for this. With this and our remaining location feasibility studies just on the horizon, we believe we will soon achieve our ultimate goal of enabling schools in communities to use our WiMax network to enhance education in the near future.
After seeing this project developed so much, just from an idea put forward by a few students, we are sure that every one of us can make a difference in this world. So we would like to encourage each of you to take an initiative, be bold and run with your creative ideas – we know first-hand that Imperial will always support you. Create the future.