According to a Youtube video by Sonam Wangchuk, before the lockdown life at SECMOL campus was peaceful without the internet. Located on the banks of Sindhu river on one side and Mt. SECMOl on the other, this institution away from the buzz of the city is know for innovations and alternative school of learnig.
However with lockdown, the internet became essential for education. Internet providers when approached said that the 700 ft tall nearby mountain was an obstruction for internet transmission to the institute.
But as Sonam Wangchuk is known for his innovations, he had an out of the box thinking. “In the plains, like in the Rajastan the tower companies use huge towers, 60-70 ft tall to mount the satellites so as to get coverage in a larger area. So why consider the mountain as an obstruction, it is an opportunity. It is not a problem but a solution.” He says “those are toy towers compared to the natural huge 600 to 700 ft tall mountains.”
Wangchuk calls this as inbox thinking.
If the transmission tower was a 7 storey building, the mountains were as tall as a 70 storey building.
So when he asked telecom companies, ‘why don’t you treat mountains as towers?” They said they never thought about that. They said there were many obstructions in making the mountains as towers:
Taking power system on top of the mountains
They have to take the heavy power system up on the mountains for 7 to 10 kilowatt power.
Solution: He asked them if it is necessary to carry the heavy power system. Don’t they have any solar powered battery system. He researched online and found an Indian company that provides optical wireless technology. They used light flickering diodes for transmission. And the batteries were around 100 to 200 watt for which solar panels can be easily made.
Impossible to maintain batteries on high altitudes at -40°C
Then they said that it is not possible to maintain the batteries on the mountains when the temperature reaches-40°C. The batteries will freeze or burst.
Solution: Sonam Wangchuk said “if houses in Ladakh can be kept warm at 20°C when the temperature outside is -20°C, then maintaining the temperature of the battery at 10 or 15°C is not a big issue. He got the technology. So at his institute they designed a technology to maintain the temperature of the batteries at around 10-15°C.
Then the students climbed the mountains with the solar panels, the power batteries and the light based internet system. They successfully installed the Mountain top optical wireless technology.
Where Hurdles became a solution in mountains internet transmission
Where mountains became solutions for internet transmission. The wireless internet system receives signals from telecommunication towers far away through laser light. The signals are then transmitted to the receiver on top of a building and from where the transmission happened in the entire surrounding village. The internet speed was the fastest.
Hurdling in internet transmission
In case there are a number of mountains as obstruction, then a transmitter can be placed on every mountain which can receive and transmit signals to the villages. It is like hurdling in athletics. The hurdler is the laser signals and the transmitters on top of the mountains are the hurdles. The hurdler runs in a straight line from start to finish and jumps over the hurdles to reach the finishing point.
Advantages of this optical wireless technology
Digging mountains for laying underground fibre is highly expensive. The laser signal system is quite inexpensive comparatively.
This technology, with respect to the environment, is better than the existing internet transmitters. Because they lots of pollution on earth as well as in the atmosphere. The outer space is being filled with a space dump.
Wherever mountains are considered as hurdle for internet transmission, this Mountain top optical wireless technology will be a boon.
This Mountain top optical wireless technology is being used in Ladakh for the past 18 months and provides the fastest internet in the state. Where there is Wangchuk there is a way.