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Linux Journal: Radio E-mail in West Africa

Oct 15, 2002, 13:00 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Wayne Marshall)

"Traveling outside the capital city of Conakry, one immediately finds that Guinea has little infrastructure, especially in the way of electrical grid and telecommunication systems--to say nothing of Starbucks and broadband access to the internet. So IRC field offices must provide their own infrastructure: diesel generators for electricity and high-frequency (HF), two-way radio sets to communicate with other offices and mobile units, up to hundreds of miles apart.

"Expecting this isolation and general lack of connectivity, I was quite astonished when we arrived in Kissi. Here I found the radio operator using his equipment to make a binary file transfer from his desktop PC to another field office, wirelessly!

This capability surprised and intrigued me. On top of the operator's radio set, connected to the serial port of his PC, sat a dingy black box simply labeled 9002 HF Data Modem. I noticed the operator used a proprietary, MS-DOS program to make his file transfers, but I immediately began wondering: if this device is truly some kind of modem, moving binary data over the ether of radio, why couldn't we set it up with Linux and network with PPP connections as well...?"

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