Followed up from Laying the Groundwork for a rural cyber
I've finally got around to writing this. Thanks for you all who patiently waited.
Although I approached the project as an "internet consultant", I soon realised I would need to implement the whole spectrum of tasks required to get the cyber running. I spent almost a week laying the structured cabling, installing the software, and configuring the network. Most of the work I was doing for the first time (e.g. drilling holes in concrete to fix the trunking screws) and most of it was hard, but all of it was enjoyable. I needed to prove the project was implementable with minimal human resources (if it was going to work elsewhere). With an eye on both troubleshooting by the owner and future projects I prepared detailed How To manuals for most of the tasks.
So the day finally arrived, November 17th I connected all the PCs to the internet. The results were incredible, the speeds were nearly as good as my 256K broadband connection in Nairobi. I tested each PC individually and was happy to see similar results. The PCs are Pentium III (666 Mhz ) Compaqs with 128K memory, purchased refurbished for about KSh. 12,500 ($178.50) and running Windows XP.
The real test though would be to see how the Internet would behave in "live" conditions, with actual customers paying for the service. I didn't have to wait long, the next day the cyber was open to the public and soon a trickle of customers came inquiring. I advised the owner to initially charge KShs. 3.00 per minute ($ 2.57/hr) and gauge the response. Not surprisingly the customers complained that the charges were high, but the amazing thing is that once they got online they were delighted by the speeds which they said were fast. At one point there were five people browsing and worried that the speeds might suffer I went around the cyber and did a spot check. I was relieved to see however that the technology held up and all the customers were browsing without a problem.
The first day was over, the cyber had passed the test, internet had reached the village. What followed thereafter was an enlightment as inquiries and comments from customers, curious onlookers and suppliers made me realise that there was potential for a lot more opportunities. Read about these insights in my next post.