Just when you thought Google and Facebook are leading the innovation behind bringing Internet access to rural areas with radical ideas that may just work, local operator Telekom Malaysia seems to have found the ideal solution. Merging technology and tradition together, the company has just announced TM WauFi, its first initiative to blend local traditional culture with modern innovation.
While both Google and the Internet.org partnership are looking at providing wireless Internet access via low-orbit satellites, solar-powered drones or even hot air balloons, TM is looking at something more related with Malaysia: the wau bulan, a traditional kite synonymous to the Malay culture. Of course, TM is modifying the wau bulan with a twist: the WauFi, which is designed with renowned wau bulan designer Pak Kasim Misrun, will be fitted with solar panels and feature a reinforced structure.
For now, TM is still testing out the WauFi in the Malaysian East Coast, before moving on to Sabah and Sarawak. According to Malay-language portal Amanz.my, the WauFi has capable of providing wireless Internet access to a 60kmsq area when it is deployed at a height of 60m. As part of the WauFi project as well, TM has also announced a training program for the unemployed to be trained WauFi Flight Engineers.
That’s not all. TM’s work in synergising local culture with 21st century technology will also see the company launch a WiFi Hotspot modeled after another Malaysian cultural icon, the kuda kepang, on April 1 next year in Johor.