Shareable recently covered a group of residents of Jalalabad, Afghanistan who built their own open-source wireless network from junk and everyday household items. For the less-industrious yet DIY-inclined, the Village Base Station (pdf) is a low-power, easy to deploy tool developed by Berkeley professor Kurtis Heimerl to create a GSM cellular data network in areas with limited power and network resources. MobileActive recently got their hands on a prototype and tested it in a large American city, and the results were promising. In a post about the experiment, they note the benefits of the Village Base Station:
…?exible off-the grid deployment due to low power requirements that enable local generation via solar or wind; explicit support for local services within the village that can be autonomous relative to a national carrier; novel power/coverage trade-offs based on intermittency that can provide bursts of wider coverage; and a portfolio of data and voice services (not just GSM).