The rural wireless broadband network in Chancay-Huaral Valley District in Peru
The Chancay-Huaral Valley is a coastal district of Peru with many small farms, 95 per cent with less than 10 hectares of land. The district has great economic potential due to fertile land, abundant water and proximity to the markets of Lima and northern Peru, but farmers have been unable to capitalize on this. A major hurdle has been their inability to adjust agricultural production to market fluctuations due to poor communications. Other problems incurred by poor communications include inefficient management of the river waters for irrigation and limited access to public services for citizens of the region.
A rural wireless broadband network was originally established to communicate the water flow schedule for local irrigation systems, to make agricultural information available to farmers and to give Internet access to schools; it is now widely used for VoIP.
The network connects 14 telecentres, 12 of which are interconnected by point-to-point standard 2.4 Ghz WiFi links of between 4 km and 10 km; a longer link, of 20 km, uses a wireless connection operating in the 900 MHz band. One telecentre acts as the main hub and provides connections to the fixed network and to the Internet.
The telecentres, located in the premises of the local farmers association, each have up to six computers using open source software.
The transmission infrastructure (antenna, radio and mast) at each node costs between 1,200 USD and 1,500 USD. The total cost of the project was 166,000 USD, which included the acquisition and installation of a small 2 KW water powered generator in one of the villages that did not have any electricity. The universal access fund provided 105,000 USD, the Ministry of Agriculture 50,000 USD and the local farmers association 11,200 USD.
The systems have been installed with active participation of the local farmers association (which look after irrigation). Technical assistance has been provided by an NGO (the Centro Peruano de Estudios Sociales). This has given ICT training to many young people who have then been able to take ICT jobs.
Initially the only service offered on the network was Internet access; there was no licence to provide telephony. However, VoIP is used for communications between sites for control and management. Also, there is now a PBX with a prepaid platform that offers phone services and connects to the fixed network of the incumbent service provider. There were problems with achieving useful interconnection: the regulator allowed rural network operators to set their own tariffs and the incumbent service provider to set interconnection rates, with the difference between the two being the revenue of the rural network operators, but the incumbent service provider, claiming technical problems, did not program their payphones with the rates and required that calls to the rural networks use prepaid cards (which many people found too expensive to buy and difficult to use, because of having to input long series of digits).
Source: Rural Telecommunication Networks in Peru (Miguel Saravia), Case studies 3 and 4 of Innovative Technologies and Community Ownership: A New Model of ICT Access for the Rural Poor (edited by Seán Ó Siochrú and Bruce Girard, UNDP, April 2005), http://www.propoor-ict.net/content/pdfs/03_UNDP_Report_3_4-Peru.pdf, Microtelcos in Latin America and the Caribbean (Hernan Galperin and Bruce Girard), Chapter 5 of Digital Poverty: Latin American and Caribbean Perspectives (edited by Hernan Galperin and Judith Mariscal, IDRC, November 2005), http://www.dirsi.net/espanol/files/05-Galperin-Girard_23nov.pdf, and New Models and Project Pilots for Universal Access in Regulatel Member Countries, Annex 3 of New Models for Universal Access to Telecommunications Services in Latin America (Peter Stern and David Townsend, Regulatel, 2007), http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTINFORMATIONANDCOMMUNICATIONANDTECHNOLOGIES/Resources/282822-1185383115254/UniversalAccessLAC-EnglishFull.pdf.