New modem promises reliable internet for Africa

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‘Resilient connectivity for the Developing World’ – the modem designed for Africa.

BRCK

The designers call it “the easiest, most reliable way to connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, even when you don’t have electricity.”

The BRCK is like a backup generator for the internet. Nairobi-based Juliana Rotich, cofounder of the open-source software Ushahidi says BCRK offers “resilient connectivity for the developing world.”

“As we laid out what such a device would look like — physically robust, able to connect to multiple networks, a hub for all local devices, enough backup power to survive a blackout — we realized that the way the entire world is connecting to the web is changing. We no longer only get online via desktops in our office, we have multiple devices, and we are all constantly on the move. So we designed the BRCK for the changing way we connect to the web around the world, from cafes-hoppers in San Francisco to struggling coders in Nairobi,” Ushadi explains on its website.

The BRCK works in a similar way to a cell phone, by intelligently and seamlessly switching between Ethernet, Wifi, and 3G or 4G mobile phone networks. By plugging in a SIM card or connecting to a wired or wireless ethernet connection the BRCK will automatically get online. If the AC power fails, BRCK falls back on its 8-hour battery.

Ushahidi is a non-profit technology company that builds open source software. The word “Ushahidi” means “testimony” in Swahili, and came out of the crowd-sourced mapping platform they built during the Kenyan post-election violence in 2008. Its goal is “to improve the way information flows in the world, and the BRCK is a natural extension of this.”

South Africa’s Daily Maverick called it the ‘World’s most kick-ass Internet modem.” It explained that Ushahidi, sticking to its populist roots, had “crowd-funded the start-up capital to produce a new type of Internet modem that’s designed by Africans, for Africans.”

Juliana Rotich,  Executive Director, co-founded Ushahidi. She also blogs at ‘Afromusing’ blog, typically with a focus on African tech and renewable energy.  Watch Rotich talking about the BRCK at a TED talk in the video below.

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