How Does Digital Village Work?
Based on the consideration of many factors, it was established that the best solution to providing the Garden Route with high quality widespread data connectivity is to build a next generation wireless network.
One of the key reasons is the matter of cost. The quality of service compared to the cost of its delivery is far better than any other medium such optic fibre, owing to the relatively low population density of the region and the lack of existing infrastructure that could be used.
Digital Village recognizes that from a business model point of view it is not economically viable to build a truly high quality network from scratch for the purpose of free or even paid internet to subscribers. The cost of infrastructure is too high. It is possible, however, when existing high sites that already belong to local community organizations can be used (referred to as “pole rights”). Allowing access to such high sites is crucial to making the business model work, and in most cases this is a contribution that costs the owners virtually nothing.
At the same rate two other elements are required to ensure the long term smooth operation of the business model: Public donor funding and commercial support.
Public donor funding has already been obtained from local businesses and private individuals who have recognized the need to invest in social uplifting infrastructure of this kind. A large part of the donor funding has also been provided “in kind” by the donation of skills and expertise of local IT specialists, as well as the provision of high points by local community organizations.
Commercial usage of the Digital Village backbone is to be encouraged and managed by a separate commercial entity. This entity is to provide the managerial expertise as well as the software systems and must provide and operate the back office equipment and infrastructure without which the Digital Village backbone cannot function.
This model is also needed to provide last mile connectivity to end-users, perform equipment installations, provide quality management and general services which are to be paid by commercial subscribers so that the cost would not become a burden to Digital Village.
In this manner two separate entities work together in one model, each performing what it is best able to deliver, in a way which does not compete, but rather focuses on eliminating costs to each other.
This model is required for the long term sustainability of the network. This is especially important since it must be remembered that if networks are to provide in the requirements of the future, they need to be continually upgraded and expanded. This is not possible if only a commercial or only a social model is employed. The strength of the combination is therefore stronger than the sum of its individual members.