CU-Boulder Graduate Student Leads Development Of Wireless Network

July 25, 2007

Next month, a University of Colorado at Boulder graduate student will complete the first leg of a wireless network that will introduce Internet communications to a remote region of Peru’s Amazon rain forest.

CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science initiated the project as part of efforts to extend basic medical and educational services to poor, isolated communities in northeastern Peru while providing global learning opportunities for students. The college’s Engineering for Developing Communities program, the CU–Boulder Outreach Committee and an individual alumni donor are funding the initiative.

Marco Kuhlmann, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, is developing the solar-powered wireless network. The network includes three transmission nodes installed in separate telecommunications towers that will relay signals from an Internet service provider in Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rain forest, to the village of Yanamono, about 35 miles down river.

Kuhlmann, a native Spanish speaker who has traveled to Peru three times in the last year to test equipment and manage the installation, will return to the region in August to complete the project’s first phase. His final step will be to set up four computers at a Yanamono lodge located a short distance from a medical clinic and community library that will use the network.

“The lodge provides a secure facility 24 hours a day, so it makes a good location for people in the area to access the Internet, voice over IP and other communications services,” Kuhlmann said.

Voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, enables consumers to make phone calls over the World Wide Web.

Explorama, a tour company in the area that owns and operates lodges, has partnered with CU-Boulder by providing use of its lodge in Yanamono to house the computers along with two of the three transmission towers needed for the project. CU-Boulder installed the third tower to complete the network.

Also partnering with the university is Enlace Hispano Americano de Salud, or EHAS, (Hispanic-American Health Link), an organization based in Madrid, Spain, that operates telecommunications networks or “health links” in Peru and other countries.

Before enrolling in CU-Boulder’s Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program last fall, Kuhlmann worked for several years as a radio frequency engineer in Mexico for Telefónica Móviles, the wireless division of Spain’s largest telecommunications provider.

“I was attracted to ITP because it is a broad program that includes the social, economic and legal aspects of telecommunications, instead of just the technical parts,” he said.

The program currently enrolls students from a dozen countries, and its graduates are working in telecommunications leadership positions around the world.

The Engineering for Developing Communities program helps to support and guide students in all the engineering disciplines who are interested in developing and implementing sustainable technologies for developing communities. This summer, CU-Boulder engineering students also are working on sustainable development projects in San León, Peru; Chile, Nepal and Rwanda.

For more information about the university’s engineering school and the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, go to engineering.colorado.edu/ and itp.colorado.edu/.

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