Bishkek, day 3 SL

The last day and most interesting, challenging day in Kyrgyzstan. In early morning, I have returned back to the Manas university, modified the test network wlan slovenija and took part on a quick coffee meeting with the adviser of president Atambayev, rector of Manas university, government institutions representatives, head of telecommunication agency and a few other Kyrgyz IT forum speakers, where I have in a few words presented my topics for the forum.

Kyrgyz IT forum had about five topic groups, one of which was Telecommunications, also including my two presentations. Firstly, a company Beeline presented their products and 3G devices. Although the prices of their services and charging per transferred data do not make such access affordable, their market is rapidly expanding.

My first today presentation was titled ...

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... The hitchhikers guide to wireless mesh network and attended by a large number of students, telecommunication professionals and interested members of public. I have presented the not so well known concept of community networks and illustrated the importance of development of open-source and available technologies, almost nonexistent in this ex-Soviet country.

I have undertaken a completely new approach of presenting the operation of mesh networks through a social experiment, first defining what access point topology is through an analogy to the presenter and a large number of listeners, where the whole communication is managed by the access point - the presenter. To present the mesh concept, I have asked everyone in the room to talk in groups and discuss the current topic, thus creating quite a noisy environment with undirected information flow, making it impossible to directly communicate across the room, however the message can be relayed across through several groups people. Hence illustrating that mesh networks operate by communicating with neighbors, relaying messages towards the final destination. In order to make this communication efficient, the best path should be undertaken, thus introducing the need for routing protocols in community, organic wireless network.

As I have shown how community mesh networks operate and how the society benefits from them, the time was right to present the history, concept and operation of wlan slovenija network, the simplicity of registering and setting up a wireless node through nodewatcher platform, pointing out the developed technical solutions and finishing the one hour long session by presenting how the effectiveness of wireless networks in enabling internet access and the importance of availability of unlicensed WiFi frequency spectrum. The response of participants was very good, some have become interested in community mesh networks, thus I have created a mailing list for coordination of interested individuals in Kyrgyzstan.

Although there was a language barrier between me and the public, it was successfully bridged by Jodat, simultaneously translating my presentation into Russian. Thank you. We have to keep in mind though, that presentations for such occasions ought to include more graphical material then text.

After a delicious Turkish cuisine lunch with a few representatives of the university, my second presentation followed, titled The answer to live, internet and community wireless networks. with similar content as the first one, albeit on a more conceptual, philosophical level. There were a few less participants the in the morning, nevertheless the ones attending found the presentation useful, educational and inspiring, thus confirming that my visit and presentations was worthwhile and useful. Lads from the local Google user group were impressed and they have presented me with their t-shirt, taking the obligatory group photo afterwards, thank you!

The forum has concluded with a ceremony where the most perspective IT projects in Kyrgyzstan were awarded, with a fair part of comical situations, unfortunately I was not able to understand much by knowing only a few Russian words.

Ending the day and my visit to Kyrgyzstan in a nice restaurant with my host, organizer and system admin Aleksei Bebinov, reflecting on the events of the past few days, refining ideas for future events and activities for setting up a community mesh network. I believe that through my presentations, I have inspired at least a few individuals to make the first step towards creating a community network of any kind, thus progressing towards free access to the internet for masses. Thank you Aleksei and the Civil initiative on Internet Policy for inviting me to Kyrgyz IT forum, enabling me to present wlan slovenija , hosting me for a few days, making me feel very welcome indeed and a very good experience indeed.

Sitting in the Istanbul airport after a very early morning flight from Bishkek, I am starting to recollect the events of these past few days, realizing that Kyrgyzstan is a beautiful country with awesome mountains, rich cultural heritage, awesome food and friendly people. The architecture resembles to a mixture of Turkish and Soviet, with wide avenues, mighty public buildings, but limited amount of public lighting, making it one of the least light polluted urban places I have visited.

After these past few days, I truly believe wlan slovenija is of global importance and can make the difference, improving lives anywhere.

Official photos.