Tibetan mesh org hosting community WiFi event in India in Oct.

Tech luminaries, big Silicon Valley companies, and Nepalese sherpas are heading to a community Wi-Fi hoedown this October in the Himalayan foothill town of Dharamshala, India. The agenda: connect the developing world with cheap, wireless mesh networks. I filed a report today for Wired News, after visiting the summit organizers in India:

In October, the Tibetan Technology Center will host the Air Jaldi Summit for wireless community developers from around the world.

Expected to attend is Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman and Wi-Fi pioneer Vic Hayes.

"We want to show people that it's possible not only to build out this kind of technology at low cost in developing areas, but that it's possible for the community to really integrate it into their lives," said Yahel Ben-David, a one-time Silicon Valley dot-commer who left his native Israel to build Dharamshala's mesh network.

October's summit will be less of a who's-who and more of a how-to, says organizer Oxblood Ruffin, who is a member of underground computer security group Cult of the Dead Cow.

In addition to representatives from Intel, Cisco and wireless activists from Europe, "Some sherpas from Nepal are coming," says Ruffin. "I'm trying to make the panels as diverse as possible, mixing grassroots activists, techies and enterprise folk in each."

Presenters will include wireless advocate and University of Limerick President Emeritus Roger Downer and Dave Hughes, who brought internet connectivity to the base of Mt. Everest.

Link. The "AirJaldi Summit" will take place in Dharamsala, India, October 22-25. As an aside, I'm told that the word "jaldi" means "fast" in Hindi. So the event name sorta means "fast wireless," in a bit of nerdy poetic stretch.

Image: Tibetan Technology Center CTO and co-founder Yahel Ben-David (with laptop) checks signal strength at an antenna site that is also a Hindu temple. To his immediate left, with his back to the camera, is the temple's resident: a Japanese priest the locals call Japani Baba, who has a laptop of his own. From far left to right, here are the other people in the picture: The man leaning on the temple is a Hindu priest who also maintains this site, along with Japani Baba. Next to him, a young Gaddi man from a village nearby. At far right in the red dreads, a mesh network project volunteer named Aurelion who was visiting from Europe and developing some nifty network monitoring apps with Ben-David. I climbed up on top of this temple and shot some pictures of the mesh network antenna and solar panel perched up there: Link. (Xeni Jardin, 2006)


* Xeni's "reporter's notebook" trek blog.

* NPR Day to Day radio series "Hacking the Himalayas":