Projects in the Net4D research group is a Community Network (CN) that provides a set of localised services to communities living in resource-constrained areas such township communities and rural villages. Users have limited access to the Internet through their mobile phones. The CN provides services such as instant messaging, VoIP, DSN (Decentralized Social Network) and file sharing. In a study on mobile Internet use in township communities, it was found that access to WiFi connectivity is limited.

Network diagram of iNethi network

Content Distribution

A vast majority of the world’s population does not have any or an adequate Internet access, contributing to expanding the digital divide. Community Networks (CNs) such as iNethi, allow communities to build their own infrastructure using open and affordable technologies to resource-constrained regions including the deepest rural communities worldwide. It is well known today that the Internet is mainly driven by Over-the-top services such as social media and online video streaming, which are bandwidth greedy applications. CNs, as such, also offer an appropriate platform for edge computing, ideal for content caching and localised services, techniques which can help users to save on expensive Internet connectivity, decrease web pages load times and improve the quality of experience of web users.

Content distribution on community networks

Network Infrastructure

We specifically focus on low-cost alternative network infrastructure solutions for developing regions including rural and peri-urban areas (such as townships). Our current research focuses on fixed wireless back-haul infrastructure using a combination of TV White space and WiFi radios that make use of mesh routing adapted specifically to this hybrid radio mix.