June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Minorities in Engineering
15.123.1 - 15.123.8
Adapting a Communication System to the Environment of an African Nation
Communications technology in the developed world has advanced to a very high level. Satellite communication is one such example that ensures communication can be effected across great distances. Another example is the cell phone which is becoming prevalent in many developing nations. In many African nations some urban centers have access to many modern communication systems. This however is not the case in all urban centers and particularly in rural areas.
To improve the situation, a well known technology that can be adapted to suit the African environment is Powerline Communication (PLC). PLC is a technology in which data can be transmitted over electric power lines. With this technology, all facilities in any area that are connected to the electric power grid can have access to Internet applications. While there are some obvious disadvantages, the many advantages that the Internet brings include connection to libraries, research centers and many sources where there are numerous educational materials for both the young and the old. This can also provide access to essentials such as health care. Off-grid areas can be connected by wireless. By this approach different technologies can be combined such that whole nations can be covered by essential communication links. This paper reports the research work being carried out by some students at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana.
In the global environment there are various modes of information transmission already in use. Two common examples that may be found everywhere are radio and TV. That is also the case in Ghana. Data transmission is also currently in use in Ghana, but it is in its early stage as an application and is not as pervasive as either radio or TV. However the advantages in data applications are numerous and make that mode of information transmission desirous. One major application is the Internet and that alone provides many advantages. To cite a few examples as a result of this major development, schools can have Internet access to major libraries and electronic learning (e-learning) can also be achieved . And along this same line, distance education will experience a phenomenal boost in its delivery. Rural clinics can have connectivity to major hospitals and hence the expertise and services of doctors at such hospitals.
Ghana currently has electrification in most urban centers and some rural areas, and it is further being improved by extending it to areas than previously did not have electricity . The national grid starts off at the generation site with high voltage (HV), goes to medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) lines for distribution . The prime objective for power lines is to supply electricity to places such as homes and industries and the cost for constructing the national grid is borne by that sector. Overlaying the transmission of data over the national grid therefore saves the initial cost of providing the infrastructure for the data transmission. By this approach, all areas that the national grid reaches can also have access to data applications.
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