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Olbalbal Connected

The cell phone tower, our window to the world

The cell phone tower, our window to the world

Some have asked how I can use the Internet in a totally isolated place like Olbalbal. The short answer is that my small solar system provides the needed electricity for the computer and there is a cell phone tower perched on the top of Ngorongoro Mountain.

Here in Tanzania people access the Internet by means of their cell phone connection. Some use the phone itself to surf the net, access web sites and to receive and send email. Others use the small sticks that have a small card inserted, a sim card. This small card is identical to the one that is in cell phones and contains a mobile phone line. The stick is inserted into the USB slot of a computer and allows them to access the Internet, again by way of the cell phone towers that have sprung up all over the country. Except in the big towns like Dar es Salaam, the connection is generally very slow and often intermittent.

During my first couple of years here at Olbalbal, the cell phone company that I was using was very poor as regards the connection speed. Also very often there was no connection at all. During the last four months, I have gotten a different cell phone provider and the connection speed is much better. In fact, I have been able to post my blogs to my web site on a regular basis. It often takes many minutes for a web site to load on my computer but with patience, I’m able to get news on sites like the BBC web site. One interesting web site that I have found is <MyWay.com> where news articles are presented without pictures that slow things down.

The phone line "sim card" being inserted into a telephone.

The phone line “sim card” being inserted into a telephone.

My phone allows me to use it as a “hot spot,” which is a wireless connection. I place it near my computer and use the phone as a wireless modem. I pay $15 dollars a month for the web on my telephone, and using the phone as a modem for the computer, I am able to post blogs to my web site, get the latest news on web sites, and even download a book now and then from Amazon to my Kindle eBook reader.

Having a kindle makes a tremendous difference to life here in the bush. In “LBK” that is in “Life Before Kindle” I had to depend on some traveler or fellow missionary discarding a book. If no one visited, There was nothing new to read for months on end. This situation changed dramatically when I received my first Kindle some years ago. Now with the many thousands of eBooks to choose from on Amazon, I download the book I want from the Internet and put it on the Kindle eBook reader by way of a USB cable. This has been a real life changer for me.

The sim card can also be inserted into a USB stick to connect a computer to the internet.

The sim card can also be inserted into a USB stick to connect a computer to the internet.

The Kindle eBook reader has transformed life in the bush.

The Kindle eBook reader has transformed life in the bush.

2 Responses to “Olbalbal Connected”

  1. Judith on 01/08/2014 #

    The Southern Poverty Law Center advised me that Amazon gives 10% of its funds to hate groups. I never go to it any more. I use my nook and Barnes and Noble.

  2. Steven Marchessault on 02/08/2014 #

    Hey Ned, good stuff! It’s wonderful that technology enables you to write this blog and stay connected to the web and the world. :)

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