Q. Who are you?
A. We’re a motley group dedicated to providing broadband mobile access to rural tribal areas. Our backgrounds include entrepreneurship, investment, software engineering and architecture, network construction and management, curriculum development, educational outreach in rural areas, and loads of non-profit work.
Q. How do you bring connectivity to an area?
A. Simply, we put up small cell towers.
Less simply, we use software-based LTE access points. If needed, we’ll set up a low-profile tower and solar power, as electricity is rarely available. We use microwave to connect the cell towers to backhaul which is typically provided by a local school. Also through the school, we distribute MiFi devices so students can set up WiFi in their homes. To avoid spectrum issues, we use the 2.5Ghz band which is reserved for educational use. We’re also experimenting with handing out SIMs as well.
Q. Who pays for all this and does the tribal community get stuck with the bill?
A. All deployments are fully funded by Mural Net, including capital costs, training, and MiFi devices provided to students. Mural Net will also provide operational support. It is our hope that the local communities can take over operations over time. Because we use existing connectivity for backhaul that cost is already being born by the hosting site. However, we are looking into options for subsidizing that too.