Wireless ‘summit’ bringing Hughes to India Oct. 18-30

       Westsider Dave Hughes will continue his long efforts to open the Internet to a wider audience when he journeys to the feet of the Himalayan mountains Oct. 18-30. The 78-year-old owner of Old Colorado City Communications will be attending the Air Jaldi Summit in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala.
       The summit will focus on bringing Internet access to remote, often poor, regions through cutting-edge wireless technologies. These particularly include mesh networks that guide wireless signals around obstacles - “perfect for the mountains,” Hughes said - and Voice over Internet Protocol, which allows people to talk long distance at much less cost than by telephone.
       Hughes was in Nepal in 2003, working with Sherpa climbing guides on a pro bono basis to expand their wireless Internet capabilities in a project he named “Linking Everest.” He has provided similar kinds of assistance in Mongolia, Venezuela, Wales and places in Europe and the United States.
       “I'm always dedicated to to hooking up people in remote areas,” he said.
       Admittedly not the lean machine he was during a military career in which he saw action in the Korean War and Vietnam, Hughes has been getting in shape for his trek with daily hikes up the Barr Trail. He did the same for his Linking Everest project, he said. “I seem to be now in as good a climbing shape as I was when I was just a lad of 75,” Hughes quipped.
       Hughes will be among several international wireless leaders who were invited to the summit. Others will include Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman and wireless network pioneer Vic Hayes. Hughes, the self-titled “cursor cowboy,” said that his greatest area of expertise is his understanding of working with - or around - government regulations or phone company roadblocks to expanding Internet capabilities in a low-cost manner.
       The trip will not be an easy one. It will start with a non-stop flight to Delhi, India, followed the next day by a smaller-plane flight to Jammu, India, capped by a five- hour drive over sometimes rough roads to Dharamsala.
       Another element to the summit is its location - Dharamsala is the home of the Tibetan government in exile (China conquered the country in the 1950s) and its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
       The Dalai Lama is a great supporter of improved Internet access, describing it in a written message to Hughes as “very important for the Tibetan people, and for all peoples of the developing world… By itself the Internet cannot feed the poor, defend the oppressed or protect those subject to natural disasters, but by keeping us informed it can allow those of us who have the opportunity to give whatever help we can.”
       Hughes said he has “some kinship” with the Dalai Lama. “I was arriving in Korea in November 1950 (to fight the Chinese),” he recalled. “That same month, China was invading Tibet.”
       From a business standpoint, Hughes sees a practical gain from the conference. He hopes to learn more about wireless mesh networks to help him install a similar system locally via Old Colorado City Communications.

Westside Pioneer article