Village Telco and Mesh Potato

The Village Telco is a DIY telephone company that uses mesh Wifi and VOIP to build telephone networks without infrastructure like cell phone towers or land lines.

The goal of the Village Telco is to provide affordable telephony for people in the developing world. In June 2008 I attended the inaugural Village Telco workshop. We needed mesh networking hardware with telephony but the off-the-shelf hardware available then was not good enough.

So we took the radical decision to develop and put into volume production a full custom open hardware product designed specifically for our needs – the Mesh Potato. I have managed the Mesh Potato project, lead the design and development team, liaised with the manufacturer (Atcom), and worked on many of the tough engineering challenges of the project. This project has been kindly supported by the Shuttleworth Foundation.

In September 2010 the Mesh Potato entered production. You can buy Mesh Potatoes from the Village Telco Store or direct from Atcom.

If you have any questions on the Village Telco or Mesh Potato, please post them to the Village Telco Google Group rather than contacting me directly.

Along the way I have posted a lot of material, this page contains a summary.

Village Telco Blog Posts

V1.3 Antenna Testing
Serval Arkaroola Demo
Firmware Recovery on a Mesh Potato
Potato on the Jetty – Range testing PCB Antennas
Antenna testing
Factors Affecting Village Telco Performance
RF Hacking
The Second Village Telco Workshop – The David Report
Mesh Potato Tests
Voice Over B.A.T.M.A.N.
First Mesh Potato Phone Call
Booting Linux on the Mesh Potato
Escape from Boot Loader Hell
Breathing Life into the Mesh Potato – Day 1
First Phone Call on MP Architecture
Testing the FXS Interface
Kicking off Phase 2 with some hardware design
Mesh Potato Milestone 1 – David

Rowetel Blog Posts

Mesh Potato Spectrum Analyser
Production Mesh Potatoes
Audio Ping and Tuning Mesh Networks
Mesh Potato V1.3
Wifi Phone call using 17mm of PCB track
How not to connect to microstrip
First Mesh Potato Beta Experience
Mesh Potato Antenna Testing
Transmitting Continuous Wifi Signals
800m Mesh Potato Phone Call
Measuring Wifi Transmit Power
Mesh Potato Testing and Free Potatoes
First Mesh Potato Phone Call
Escape from Boot Loader Hell
Breathing Life into the Mesh Potato – Day 1
First Phone Call on MP Architecture
Mesh Potato FXS Interface
Mesh Potato Phase 2 – hardware design
The Mesh Potato Part 2
The Mesh Potato Part 1

Dili Village Telco

In March 2010 the Dili Village Telco project started, the world’s first roll out of Village Telco technology. We are deploying 100 Mesh Potatoes to implement a free local call telephone network in Dili, the capital of East Timor. I am managing the project, training Timorese, and troubleshooting technical problems. The project is gathering important technical, social, and business model data for the Village Telco.

This project is being support by ISIF and ISOC grants and Atcom, who have manufactured a special batch of Mesh Potatoes for this project.

Many blog posts, media articles, and lots more information on the Dili Village Telco Wiki.

In this photo a the Director of HAFOTI is making a free phone call over a Mesh Potato. HAFOTI is an NGO working on Womens issues in Timor Leste. This is what it’s all about.