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The Affordable Wireless Connectivity Project for Rural Community Bario, Kelabit Highland.

The Affordable Long Range Wireless Connectivity project aims to extend the coverage of rural telecentre implemented in remote rural areas where there is zero telecommunication infrastructure available.

This research works's main objectives are as follows:

  • To reach out, maximize and extend network connectivity and coverage of the existing eBario telecentre into nearby villages of up to 10km away

  • To design affordable rural-proof wireless relay technology that is power self-sufficient, ease of transportation and deploy-able by the locals.

  • To create greater impact of a single VSAT Internet gateway investment by enabling larger Internet coverage penetration limited by geographical distance.

The following are some photo sharing related to this research works since year 2009.

Long Range Wireless Deployment

19 April, 2009 - 20 April 2009

The first wireless feasibility study for the project. Assisted by Lau Sei Ping, Nancy Bundan, and Elly Soo.

The first wireless feasibility study for the project.

Assisted by Dr. Lau Sei Ping, Nancy Bundan, and Elly Soo.

The first off-telecentre Internet connectivity testing in Bario.

Reaching Labang Longhouse 1km away from eBario telecenter.

Picture with the local technical support, James Tarawe,

marking the success of the pilot connectivity testing.

Some connectivity testing at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology on 27 July, 2009.

Long range wireless distance benchmark testing at the top of Water Tower of Unimas

on 3 September 2010. A 10km connection has been tested.

Long Range Wireless Deployment

2 August, 2009 - 4 August 2009

Pilot deployment by Tan Chong Eng, Lau Sei Ping, Teoch Chu Chong,

Cheung Kian Kok, Tai Wai Yee, Lim Shia Yok, and Elise Wong.

On the Roof.

Research teams worked with the locals during the deployment.

Deployment of the first relay station on a hut on top of a hill.

The very first version of rough relay station house in a wooden box.

The solar panel supported by small wood branches taken from the jungle.

The first local users of wireless system for Internet.

3km, 2 hops wireless signal path.

Group photo with the local user, Stephen Baya and Tina

Extending Network to Other Village

24 Jaunuary 2010 - 26 Jaunuary 2010

25 January 2010, Extending network coverage to other villages.

Second Generation Long Range Wireless Relay Station Deployment

Prayer Mountain Site Survey

26 June 2010- 30 June 2010

Site and signal path survey on top of Prayer Mountain.

Assisted by research team members, Lau Sei Ping,

Cheung Kian Kok and Teoh Chu Chong.

The church at the middle of Prayer Mountain, Bario.

Site Survey at Pa Ukat & Relay Station Installation at Prayer Mountain, Bario

15 August 2010 - 21 August 2010

We were identifying the potential villages by penetrating to the heart of jungle of Pa Ukat. Some insects attack during site survey at Pa Ukat.

And, thanks to local community for the leading and great team members, Lau Sei Ping,

Teoch Chu Chong, Cheung Kian Kok, Yew Sin Giap,

Lim Shia Yok, Chin Mei Lu and Elise Wong.

Local community helping in transporting the components up the mountain.

Steep jungle trail up the Prayer Mountain.

A good and challenging experience for researchers.

Raining on the way up the mountain. We take shelter at the church located half way.

As ground surface getting slippery, the journey becoming more challenging.

Setting up and configuring equipment under the sun. we were taking shelter using a rain coat. Most of the time, Bario will have raining during afternoon. So, we will cover our hardware with few big black plastic bags and waiting for the rain to pass.

On 19 August 2010, the connected villages created a new page in the wireless communication history of Bario.

The relay station at Pa Umor, protected by woods from buffalo.

Coverage Survey

26 September 2010 - 28 September 2010

Evaluating the possibility of some other villages receiving the wifi signal.

Checking the health condition of Pa Umor relay station.

Vegetation growing fast around it.

Introduction the Kelabit Highland wireless relay network to the Prime Minister of Malaysia

Extend network to Pa Umor

4 September 2011 - 8 September 2011

Thick bushes killed the wireless signal,

hence an alternative cabling has been laid across the 150m bushes to bridge the coverage gap.

Warning! Ants Inside!

Equipment box invaded by Ants. It is time to do service clean up.

This project has implemented 4 relay stations in Bario, relaying coverage and connection to 7 nearby villages, Padang Pasir, Ulong Palang, Bario Asal, Arul Dalan, Pa Ramapuh, Kampung Baru, and Pa Umor. The longest hop is 8km and the highest relay station deployed is on Prayer Mountain, 450m above Bario ground. The system has been serving the Bario community of 1000 people in the Kelabit Highland since 2010. Since then, this long range wireless network has been evolving and upgraded to meet the new needs of the rural communities as time pass by. With WiFi enabled mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets getting common, cheaper and more villagers own them, the role of telecentre now has been more into providing connectivity and bandwidth rather than computing facilities and services; the long range wireless system also in the process of evolving its CPE unit into new design of power-self sufficient WiFi hotspot system at remote villages. This project has also defined a standard model for easy and affordable telecommunication connectivity replication to other remote rural sites. This helps accelerating the effort in bridging the digital divide, which all these while been restricted by the high deployment cost of modern telecommunication infrastructure. The low adoption cost will increase the possibility of system self-sustainable by the local community when the project fund from the government finished. A service development platform has also been created through this project where other IT services can ride on this platform in order to deliver new, useful and relevant applications to the rural community more easily. The also open up more opportunity and accelerate the social economy development as more people can now be connected and resources are now easily reachable.

Special thanks to the following researchers for the making this project possible:

  • Prof Khairuddin Ab Hamid (Advisor and Mentor to the project)

  • Dr Lau Sei Ping

  • Elise Wong Siew Mooi

  • Cheung Kian Kok

  • Elly Soo

  • Nancy Bundan

  • Teoh Chu Chong

  • Lim Shia Yok

  • Chin Mei Lu

  • Tai Wai Yee

  • Yew Sin Giap

  • John Tarawe (local Support)

This research work was supported by:

ScienceFund, Ministry ofScience, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Malaysia.

Demonstrator’s Application Grant Scheme (DAGS), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Malaysia.

Exploratory Research Grant Scheme (ERGS), Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia

Dana Principal Investigator (DPI) Grant, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)

Feel free to contact me for more information and projects details. OR

Tan Chong Eng, 2014

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