Putting aside Google's deplorable practices, Alphabet's X and other projects are truly great. They are, in many ways, the Bell Labs of today.
Also +1 for frickin lasers.
Engineers at Alphabet's technology moonshot lab X say they used lasers to beam 700TB of internet traffic between two cities separated by the Congo River. The capitals of the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazzaville and Kinshasa, respectively, are only 4.8 km (about three miles) apart. The …
Probably fair to say, though, that this is as much of a fix for a political issue as a technical one. There have been plans for a bridge for at least 30 years which could carry comms as well as road and rail traffic.
While it's tempting to use technical fixes to work around such issues, politicians don't always like being cut out of the deal so it will be interesting to see whether/how this becomes commercialised.
You want a Bridge?
Boris likes big building projects - and he also knows people who
But you'll have to pay for it yourself as Boris has redirected the UK overseas aid budget. But it will cost you - his garden bridge cost over £40 million to do the preliminary planning
"Could you not solve the pigeon problem by making the laser a bit more powerful?"
Zapping live pigeons still interrupts the signal, and pigeon droppings don't burn off optical glass as they're essentially non-combustible. Plus the weight of roosting pigeons can deflect the laser so its beam misses the detector. At the distances involved a very small angular deflection results in a large movement at the detector.
If I remember rightly the transmitter was on the roof of the UCL electronics building in Malet Street and the receiver was on the roof of Kings College on the Strand about 1 km away, but even over that short distance, angular aiming accuracy has to be very high.
I used this a few years ago (probably about 10) the reason for this was connecting two buildings separated by a car park, there was a single duct between them but they wanted a redundant connection.
We had a couple of problems.one the laser was too powerful (we gave it sunglasses) the second was in freezing fog it refracted to the point of not working - not a problem in Africa,
But it did work and the signal did transmit for a for years until someone finally paid to run a cable for a kilometre round the site to give it redundancy.
Indeed, apparently (according to google) a US quarter dollar coin is 0.955 in, 24.26 mm, 0.1733 linguine in diameter. Which is 4.662 square centimeters. Unfortunately an area of that size doesn't even register (heh) in the smallest of El Regs area units the Nano-Wales. So that's an oversight to begin with.
"That's apparently because the fiber backbone to Kinshasa has to route more than 400 km (250 miles) around the river – no one wanted to put the cable through it."
The article mentions that no cable exists that runs through the river,
but why don't they just run a cable through the river?
I guess laser comms would have proper real-world applications, e.g. connecting a valley-floor settlement with a settlement up a steep mountain-side.
But two cities straddling a river?
That is Google showing-off its technical capability,
but not connecting Africa to the internet
River beds aren't all sunshine and roses, especially if they lack flood control, so the issues may include local geology as well. That said, free air communications links tend to suffer exponential losses in inclement weather.
As an alternative someone could trial landing a string of cheap POF(plastic optical fiber) and a bucket of rocks on the river bottom and just sending a canoe across every time it dies.
But hey, why not do both? even if it works 6 days a week, it will pressure the incumbent telco to drop it's rates, and profide alternate paths for better burst speed and resilience.
Dunno about Africa, but the main hazard of animal driven damage to telecom structure here in the U.S. seems to be certain bipeds that like to use pole-mounted telecom gear for target practice.
Meanwhile I can't be arsed but maybe someone could calculate how many Aldis Lamps would be needed to accomplish this task.
Anyone know if the broadband situation has improved in South Africa?
portable storage capacity has increased several fold, so may be the pigeons still have the edge
I haven’t dealt with Telkom for about 8 years (it was a few jobs ago) but I remember the best bit was the call centre supporting international connections couldn’t phone outside of the country. Which was great when I am sitting in an office in the UK trying to fix a network problem in Cape Town.
We used to have to give them the mobile number of one of the office managers to relay information through…
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