LOCATION | Himachal Pradesh, Kangra District. Situated at about 2,082 meters above sea level, at the foothills of the Himalayas.
BACKGROUND/SHORT HISTORY | February 2005, the Indian Government has just de-regulated Wi-Fi restrictions in rural areas. The objective: to set up rural wireless connections between locations in and around Dharamsala, where AirJaldi’s founding team was based.
It started with just 8 interconnecting relays which gave internet access to local schools and NGOs. These included the Tibetan Children’s Village, Dal Lake Hospital and the College for Higher Tibetan Studies.
Fast forward to 2009, when the network was obtained by RBB, which now runs the network. With over 50 relays in the Kangra region, AirJaldi’s Dharamsala network has grown substantially over the last few years. The aim: to provide ‘viable and sustainable’ broadband for rural communities.
Thus, Dharamsala became a home not only for AirJaldi’s team but also for a breeding ground for a new approach to rural broadband connectivity, which involves addressing the multiple challenges of expensive supply Vs low demand, need for low cost, yet durable equipment; high technical viability combined financial practicality and most important, our team’s innovative work ethic.
DATE OF INITIATION/INCEPTION | 7th February 2005
SIZE/SPREAD | 70km. radius, in and around Dharamsala
PRIMARY CLIENTS | Schools, monasteries, Community-based organizations, businesses.
LONGEST LINK | 45km.
PARTNERS | The Tibetan Technology Center (TIBTEC)
POPULATION DENSITY | 233/km2 (in comparison: Delhi: 9,294/km2; Overall India: 363/km2; USA: 33.7/km2)
GENERAL OVERVIEW | The economy is based mostly on agriculture. Tea cultivation is essential to the local economy. Moreover since China’s occupation of Tibet, the influx of refugees have developed tourism extensively based around Tibetan Buddhist culture. Dharamsala is also the Exile home to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile and many Tibetan institutions.