Long Range WiFi Network Aids Haiti Relief Effort

NGOs use long-range WiFi network to tap into the Internet and coordinate their efforts

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After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince on 12 January, reporters on the ground observed that the damage done to the telecommunications infrastructure was hampering coordination efforts.

But first impressions didn’t convey the whole story. Senior editor Harry Goldstein reports that while landlines were destroyed, cell phone networks temporarily overwhelmed, and the country’s sole link to a high-capacity fiber optic undersea cable severed, Haiti’s multiple links to the Internet—and the key to networking NGOs on the ground—worked. The challenge for engineers now is the proverbial last mile—getting local connections to satellites restored so Haitians and NGOs can get online.

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