While we are satisfied some with our successes to date, we also realize that there are many areas where we can improve and expand the net work. In particular, we would like to concentrate on the following areas as we move forward.
A. Provide additional resources needed for the tele-medicine installation:
The goal is to make tele-medicine a viable health opportunity for rural community. While we have invested in some of the necessary technology, further work and investment is needed to reach a point where the telemedicine works perfectly helping to address the shortage of doctors in the rural clinics. The major investment required for tele-medicine is for buying video conferencing equipment, digital equipment for ultrasound, ECG, vital sign monitoring, x-ray reading, etc.
B. Start tele-training program:
Based upon our experience by running telemedicine program between Dolakha Hospital and Kathmandu Model Hospital for the last one and half year, we have seen that a wireless network will provide tele-training program for the rural health workers and teachers. This will actually be a virtual training program in which the trainees will be staying in the rural areas and the trainer will conduct the training from the city centers.
C. Expand the virtual ATM services and remittance services:
One of the important future goals is to make the virtual ATM service available in as many tourist destinations as possible. Also we would like to start remittance service in the area from where maximum numbers of young people have gone to work abroad. It is very important for the sustainability of the network. As for helping people to sell and buy the local people in the local market, we will provide training to local people on how to use local e-commerce site created.
D. Provide quality of broadband services:
The high internet bandwidth cost is the bottleneck for providing quality broadband services in Nepal. The market price for 1 Mbps dedicated internet link on average is higher than US$ 500 per month. The villagers in the remote areas can’t afford such a high cost. At this situation the only way to provide Internet services is to provide shared Internet connection. Right now the 14 villages that are connected to the network of APT project are sharing 512 Kbps of Internet bandwidth. However, the Internet bandwidth cost is coming down because Nepal Telecom and private operators are getting cheaper Internet connection from India through optical fiber line. The plan is to upgrade this connection to 1 Mbps or more to Mustang project when it gets cheaper and the number of users grows.
E. Put more backup power at the relay stations:
We found that solar power sources that we have put at Khopra relay station relay during the peak monsoon rain is not enough. We solved that problem temporarily by using a kerosene generator. Therefore we plan to put more solar panels for backup power at the relay stations in order to increase performance and uptime.
F. Extend the network to more surrounding villages:
With the APT support, we connected only 14 villages in the network. However, we have now built strong backbone and we can extend the network to many more villages. For example, from Todke of Myagdi we can extend the network to western region of Myagdi district and at least 15 villages can be connected. From Mohare Relay, we are planning to connect Ghondabandhe of Baglung district from where we can connect at least 10 villages in that region. Similarly, many more villages can be connected if we build a relay station at Durlung that can be linked to Chandrakot Relay. By bringing network service to more villages, we plan to provide a revenue stream both for the village and for the project. Of particular interest is the establishment of an Internet cafés at Annapurna Base camp and a rescue request system at Thorang Pass (5,416 metres, 17,769 ft). Also by building a relay station on the mountain top located on the East side of Jomsom, the wireless network can be extended as far as to Lo Manthang, which is near the Chinese border. Before 1991, Upper Mustang was closed to the foreigners. Even though foreign visitors have been allowed to the kingdom since 1991, tourism to Upper Mustang is regulated. Foreigners need to obtain a special permit to enter, which costs US$500 per 10 days per person.
G. Collaborate with potential partners to set up climate change monitoring system:
Nepal Wireless is currently in the process of setting up collaboration with Dr. Arnico Panday, Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, VA, USA. Dr. Panday studies the interactions of air pollution and climate, studying the formation of atmospheric haze in Nepal from air pollutants emitted in the Ganges Basin and within Nepal, as well as the effects of this haze on meteorology, air quality, glaciers, and monsoons. He has field research sites in two regions of Nepal where Nepal Wireless has good coverage - Mustang and Makwanpur. By June 2010 he is setting up stations equipped with instruments to measure atmospheric black carbon, ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulates at Sim Bhanjyang in Makwanpur, and on Dhumba Ridge near Jomsom in Mustang District. He is also installing a network of automated weather stations in and around these sites, and a Cimel sun photometer in Pokhara that will be part of NASA’s Aerosol Robotic Network (Aeronet). He will work with Nepal Wireless to link these sites to the internet, so that data can be accessed remotely.
Some of the weather stations in Mustang District will be co-located with existing Nepal Wireless relay stations (for example Dhakarjong). The station on Dhumba ridge will be connected either to Dhakarjong relay or to Jomsom access point. Sim Bhanjyang, Makwanpur, provides an interesting opportunity for Nepal Wireless. Dr. Panday is installing his instruments on and next to the transmission tower belonging to Radio Palung, which sits on a 2,600 meter peak that has a clear line of sight to both Hetauda (where Nepal Wireless has an access point), and to Mohare Relay in Myagdi, as well as to large regions of rural Makwanpur, Lalitpur, Dhading, Chitwan, Bara, and Parsa. Building a relay station in Sim Bhanjyang that is connected to both Hetauda and Mohare would connect together Nepal Wireless’s infrastructure in two different parts of Nepal, and would provide alternative ways of routing traffic. At the same time it would allow Dr. Panday to connect together all of his stations through one intranet. If he succeeds in obtaining additional funding, Dr. Panday is interested in setting up weather and climate monitoring in Upper Mustang and in Manang Valley, and in working with Nepal Wireless to build additional relay stations needed to connect to upper Mustang and across Thorong or Tilicho Pass to Manang.