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The Uganda Rural Training and Development Programme (URDT) has recently installed a satellite Internet connection. You can read more about URDT at http://www.urdt.org
Here is some information and a couple of photos about the satellite link and how it will be used.
URDT would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to the Australian High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya for its kind assistance in providing the funds to purchase the VSAT satellite dish and a Hughes Network System DW6000 Internet gateway for its campus in Kagadi, Kibaale district, western Uganda. Technical specifications of the Internet gateway can be found on the HNS website http://www.hns.com
The equipment cost in the region of US$4,000 (not including VAT or installation costs). The equipment was supplied and installed by a supplier in Kampala. The monthly usage fee for 1 gigabyte of data is $250 per month and the annual license fee to Uganda Communications Commission is about $270. The installation of the equipment was done on 6 and 7 April, 2004. The DW6000 terminal is compatible with Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.
Here is the contact information for the equipment suppliers in Kampala:
Wilken Telecommunications, Contact Carlos, Tel. 256 77 586818, 256 41 231873, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AFSAT Communications, Contact Martha, Tel. 256 77 410692, 256 41-343780, email: email@example.com, http://www.afsat.com
The speed of the satellite connection with the VSAT equipment varies between 2.2 megabits per second to 100 kilobits per second depending how many others are using the satellite. Even at the slower connection speed, it is at least 200 times faster than the previous connection via mobile phone, which was the only type of Internet connection possible in Kagadi. In addition, the new satellite connection is reliable. Previously it could take up to one hour to send a few text emails because the mobile phone connection kept dropping out.
The cost of the mobile phone link was approximately US $500 per month. The monthly cost of the satellite connection is US $250 for one gigabyte of data which should provide sufficient capacity for the use of URDT, its staff, the URDT Girls School and public use to surf the Internet and download information as required. Previously obtaining information from the Internet was not practical using the mobile phone link. In addition, the Hughes Network Systems agents in Uganda , iWay Africa, http://www.iwayafrica.com will provide an unlimited number of free email accounts. This means a cost saving of $US 57 per month as it will now be possible for URDT Kagadi to cancel its account with it's current Internet service provider. URDT's new email address in Kagadi is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The timing of the installation worked very well for URDT. The following weekend, Sarit Birzon, a volunteer from the Jewish Volunteer Corps of the American Jewish World Service, who is a software engineer arrived from the USA for a two months stay at URDT. With her assistance, six computers have been networked in the URDT computer centre.
Courses for introduction to Internet, search engines and downloading have been set up by Sarit working with Doreen Rwabishali, coordinator of the URDT Computer Center. The demand for Internet training and access is high. URDT has developed a plan to prioritize first training and access for participants in the Education for Rural Transformation course, which includes 32 teachers and trainers from the URDT Girls School, the URDT Business and Media Institute and the Rural Youth Skills and Leadership Programme and the staff of KKCR radio.
URDT is currently undertaking research on HIV/AIDS in Kibaale District and will use the Internet connection to download information such as current reports from TASO, an Ugandan NGO working with people with HIV. KKCR radio staff will use Internet daily for news reports and information. URDT Girls School staff will use the Internet for information related to their classroom and extracurricular activities.
The second priority for training and access to Internet will be for students at URDT, including the Girls School (secondary), the Business and Media Institute (tertiary) and the Rural Youth Skills and Leadership programme (community based).
The third priority for training and access to Internet will be for the general public, particularly health workers and educators in the surrounding community. URDT's community radio KKCR will announce this new service to the general public.
Already with only two days of being operational, there is great interest in using the Internet and in upgrading of computer skills in general among the URDT staff. When asked what she thought of the satellite link, Doreen the URDT computer centre coordinator said "It's great!". You can see the smile on her face in the accompanying photos. The other photos show Doreen with Sarit.
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