A VSAT Dis-Installation Dance with OLPC in Peru


I love Ivan Krstić's "notebook" of his One Laptop Per Child experiences. There we get to live vicariously through him as he flies around the world as a one-man tech support for the OLPC program.

His most recent experience, Things not to do in Peru starts off as a tale of medical woe in a distant land that I can fully relate to. But then he describes his adventures with technology and I got really concerned:

vsat dance
The VSAT dance at OLPC Peru
Most of all, don’t have a near-death experience in an Andean hilltop hamlet when you’re asked to help disassemble a VSAT satellite terminal perched atop a school roof whose sun-scorched tiles can’t withstand the weight of one person, let alone two, and particularly not when they’re carrying said VSAT terminal.

Extra hint: don’t have the tiles start crumbling and breaking under your feet as you scramble maniacally to walk to safety without falling through the roof while also not dropping the antenna.

Can I give OLPC a big hint? Do not send your Director of Security Architecture to move a VSAT antenna. Yes, he might want to be a hardware geek for a day, but it's not the best use of his time. Worst of all, where would OLPC be if he did fall through that roof?

This is 2008, and VSAT technicians are easy to find. The Global VSAT Forum certified installers database is a good start, and local technology vendors would be a better finish. Not only would there be less danger of loosing key staff, local partners would be there the next day for maintenance and repair if the VSAT needed a fix.

Update: While the paragraphs below detail how OLPC could install VSATs, we've now learned that there will be no synchronous Internet connectivity (or VSATs) for OLPC Peru.
But I wonder why OLPC needed to install VSATs to begin with? Under Peru's National Program for Rural Telecommunications Projects, Fondo de Inversion en Telecommunications del Peru (FITEL), Dail Sat installed 6,300 VSAT's in a public call office network, serving some 6,000 communities, and providing rural satellite telephony and Internet backbone to 20% of Peru’s population.

In addition, USAID sponsored LMI Peru with the Peruvian government to take Internet connectivity out past even Dial Sat's reach, to the poorest hamlets in the mountainous countryside.

If OLPC and Peru want the greatest impact with XO laptops, they should be building on these earlier efforts in connectivity, putting computers in communities that already have connectivity and electrical infrastructure. That way Ivan Krstić can focus on the real challenge of empowering children's education in far and distant lands: governmental deployment planning, both technical and organizational, for 260,000 XO laptops.

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Wayan wrote "But I wonder why OLPC needed to install VSATs to begin with?"

The article says "Most of all, don’t have a near-death experience in an Andean hilltop hamlet when you’re asked to help disassemble a VSAT satellite terminal.."

There's a big difference between assembly and disassembly.

a olpc-hate site disguised as olpc-news!



Good catch Roland - no VSATs for OLPC Peru according to this interview with Oscar Becerra, of "DIGETE" or "Direccion General de Tecnologias Educativas" by Javier Rodriguez:

Q: ... About the OLPC' XOs in Peru.. are they going to be connected to the Internet by VSATs?

A: No. That is not the plan. The XOs will record their request in USBs that will be "collected" by the teacher in his XO or in a School Server. Then the teacher will travel to the nearest "internet capable" point and send its request. This travel can be once by day, once by week, once by month or once every three months. That depends on the location and environment conditions of the village and the location of the nearest internet point.

There are many "Internet Cafes" (cabinas) in the remote villages, one can be surprised about where you will find an Internet Cafe /(I translate "cabinas" as "Internet Cafe" because for Americans this could be the most accurate image... but no cafe there! only cheap computers (normally) connected to the internet)./

Q:... Are the "Internet Cafes" going to have the computers ready to "get the USB" and "pass" the request of information to the Internet? this "Internet Cafes" work with Windows and not with "Linux"... ?

A: That is not the only way. The teacher can travel to the nearest UGEL, the UGEL must have a computer that is able to get the USB from the teacher and do all needed requests. /(there are 250 UGELS approximately in all Peru. An UGEL is a local administrative office of the Ministry of Education, they manage directly all the schools in some area).

"There's a big difference between assembly and disassembly."

Looks like Wayan needs to slow down when reading his sources - that's a second article in the row when he completely misinterprets the facts...

Assembly/dissabley what's the difference? The issue is - How efficient is it to have the Director of Security Architecture, a guy who is not easily replaced, on the roof moving an antenna?

Thanks Maddie, that was my point. I really respect Ivan and feel that he is a key member of OLPC, close to irreplaceable at this point in the project. Not to be a Mother Hen, but we cannot afford to loose him to a roof fall. Especially when there are local resources that can do assembly/disassembly for OLPC.

"Assembly/dissabley what's the difference? "

Wayan presented the article as if Ivan was sent there by OLPC to install VSAT. He wasn't - he was asked, while there, by the locals to help to remove it and agreed to do it which I agree was a silly thing to do (although obviously not as dangerous as Wayan's choice of a picture would suggest - other pictures from Ivan's blog show a bit different story). Wayan then continues with the false premise of his article questioning the need for OLPC to do the installation in the first place which obviously wasn't the case.

Quite a different take from the actual facts I'd think...

OK Delphi,
Suppose Ivan had fallen off the roof. Wouldn't that be a major problem for OLPC? Wouldn't you be asking 1. who's going to finish his job and 2. why was he on the roof in the first place when there's other around who, let's face it, would be easier to replace?

Wayan, thanks for the link to Ivan's blog. It's interesting reading.


While I was wrong in my understanding of what Ivan was doing, at the time, I was right in being concerned - he was the one to say it was a "near death experience".

And I was right in thinking of how OLPC could effectively roll out VSAT to all schools, and I trust you agree that sending Ivan would be foolish. A few hours after I posted this, I found the comment on the Library Listserv that said there wouldn't be connectivity at all - hence the whole other post on this issue: http://www.olpcnews.com/internet/access/synchronous_internet_connectivity_vsat.html

I will also be updating this post to reflect this new information, and I appreciate your patience in my tracking of OLPC news.


"Suppose Ivan had fallen off the roof. Wouldn't that be a major problem for OLPC?"

Yes, it would. But you missed the point. It was Ivan's own rather unwise decision to help out when asked by the locals. It was not the reason he was sent there by OLPC. Hence Wayan's "Can I give OLPC a big hint? Do not send your Director of Security Architecture to move a VSAT antenna." and most of the rest of the post was factually wrong - in his eagerness to criticize OLPC Wayan again misinterpreted what was actually going on...


It's your blog and you can, obviously, post whatever you like and I do find many article by you and others interesting. However, it seems that your antagonizm towards OLPC (and Negroponte in particular) has a negative effect on accuracy of information in your posts - that's regrettable as I'm sure there is a good reason you chose the name of your blog to be OLPCNews rather than OLPCGossip...

Looking forward to many more interesting articles.

Good day

CMC is a registered ISP based in Johannesburg South Africa.

We manage a global MPLS network for many corporations based in a number of countries.

Normally CMC Networks provides its own V-Sat capacities with our satellite partners and we would like to explore the following:

• Can we work with your organization and operate under your V-Sat license?
• What is the annual and or monthly license fee to operate a C Band V-Sat link with TX/RX, SCPC/DVB
• Alternatively should the points above not be possible, would you be able to assist CMC Networks in acquiring a commercial license as described with an indication of the costs?
• The capacities that our client is looking for will be 64 and 128Kbps respectively although this will be taken from our own capacity.
• CMC can supply the equipment, and would need to know if you company is able to assist with the costs for the following:
o Importation of the equipment
o Site survey’s
o Installation
• Can CMC Network enter into an agreement with your organization whereby you provide all the necessary support?

Thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to a favourable response soon.

anyone here recommend.... er, any VSAT provider / solution for remote peruvian location?? i want some fast internet that actually works... if you know of any company that can do this, and install it etc, let me know. cheers.

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