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Bay Area nonprofit Green Wi-Fi’s solar-powered networking gear is designed to provide wireless broadband access in developing countries where sources of electrical power might be unreliable or nonexistent. Here is the latest version of the organization’s Wi-Fi’s access node, which consists of a small solar panel, a heavy-duty battery, a router and an “intelligent” charge controller that moderates power use based on sunlight intensity. The network is designed to automatically limit broadband access when solar-power levels are low, which enables the system to stay in continuous operation for as long as a month in weak sunlight.
When they came up with the idea for Green Wi-Fi, the organization’s co-founders, Bruce Baikie and Marc Pomerleau, both worked at computer company Sun Microsystems. Baikie still works for the company as a telecommunications industry strategy and solutions manager. Pomerleau, who was a member of the marketing team for Sun’s identity management products, now works for Green Wi-Fi full time. The solar-powered Wi-Fi network nodes they developed cost less than $200 apiece and can operate with each other from a distance of up to one kilometer.