Despite the narrative of ubiquitous cellular coverage throughout the world, hundreds of millions of people still remain outside the range of traditional networks. The reason for this is primarily economic; incumbents cannot profitably serve the most rural parts of the world. Our solution for this is a new network architecture called a Community Cellular Network (CCN). CCNs are owned and operated by local agents who are able to more efficiently operate and maintain infrastructure in their communities. In this talk we describe an example CCN system and supporting technologies such as Virtual Coverage and GSM White Spaces. We then evaluate the system through a longitudinal deployment in rural Indonesia, with both economic and interview results.
Kurtis Heimerl is a new assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering department. His research interests span information and communication technologies and development (ICTD), human-computer interaction, networks, and systems. He was recognized by MIT Technology Review with a TR35 Award in 2014 for his work on The Village Base Station (VBTS), a low-cost, low-power system for providing small-scale, locally-owned cellular networks in rural communities that lack existing cellular coverage. After building the one of the first community cellular networks in a small village in Papua, Indonesia in 2013, Kurtis co-founded a startup company, Endaga, to commercialize the technology and bring VBTS to more communities around the world. Endaga joined Facebook in 2015. Kurtis has also worked in the areas of Crowdsourcing (Umati, the crowdsourcing vending machine) and single display groupware (Metamouse).