Open WiFi for research and education in Kenya

Students and academic staffers at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, will be the initial users of the first cloud-based Open WiFi architecture in Africa. The solution is provided by Kenya Education Network (KENET), the national research and education network (NREN) of Kenya, and its partners.

The new network is based on a preceding collaboration under the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). The deployment, delivered through TIP participants Actiontec, HFCL Limited, and NetExperience, will expand the WiFi coverage of student learning spaces, lecturer halls, and hostels at the main campus of Kenyatta University, a public research-intensive university in Nairobi, Kenya. The university has an enrollment of about 60,000 students and over 5,000 faculty and staff members.

“We believe TIP Open WiFi will contribute to our mission of transforming education and research through community ICT innovation and solutions. In collaboration with the TIP community and partners, we are determined to provide faster and better connectivity services to students and faculty members in our member universities,” says Professor Meoli Kashorda, CEO of KENET.

KENET is a not-for-profit membership operator incorporated to support research and education institutions in Kenya. Currently, about 400 campuses of 180 members institutions are connected, including universities, research institutions, hospitals, and others.

Half the global population is without internet

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is a global community of companies and organisations that are driving infrastructure solutions to advance global connectivity to transform global connectivity. Half of the world’s population is still not connected to the internet, and for those who are, connectivity is often insufficient. This limits access to the multitude of consumer and commercial benefits provided by the internet, thereby impacting GDP growth globally.

Founded in 2016, TIP is a community of diverse participants that includes hundreds of companies from service providers and technology partners to systems integrators and other connectivity stakeholders.

“The announcement (of the TIP Open WiFi deployment, ed.) shows the incredible potential for improving on-campus connectivity that can be unlocked through the deployment of open and disaggregated networks. Crucially, solutions like TIP Open WiFi not only spur network technology innovation, but they also enable a wide array of new business models and use cases. These make it easier and more economically viable than ever before to deploy the high-quality connectivity solutions we know to have an even greater impact on education outcomes,” says Attilio Zani, Executive Director, Telecom Infra Project.

Meeting the expectations of today’s students

TIP Open WiFi is offered as free open-source software. Among its features are both a cloud controller SDK and an Enterprise-grade Access Point firmware, designed and validated to work seamlessly together.

Open and disaggregated network solutions such as TIP Open WiFi confer several key benefits over current proprietary solutions that make them particularly suited to delivering capital and operational savings that reduce the total cost of ownership. In addition, enterprise and carrier-grade features enable the provision of high-quality, high-capacity connectivity at scale which is critical to delivering the kind of services that can meet the expectations of today’s students.

Published: 04/2023

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