Wireless networks is attracting growing attention across the globe, as a plausible way of providing internet access in marginal areas or in cases where costs are prohibitive. Cristo Redentor Telecentre co-ordinator Cristina Ojeda joined a workshop on wireless networking organized by the Latin American School of Networking EsLaRed) in Mérida, Venezuela and narrates her experience.

In end-July, seven workshops -- or tracks -- organized by the Latin American Network Schools (Escuela Latinoamericana de Redes, or EsLaRed) called WALC 2005 were held in Mérida, Venezuela.

Cristina Ojeda, the coordinator of the Cristo Redentor Telecentre in Rosario, participated in one of these workshops, on 'Wireless Networks for Data Transmission'.

"The goal was to learn how to set up a network, the different types of antennae available, and put the knowledge and skills acquired into practice," she said.

In the mornings, Ojeda narrates, they learned the theory and in the afternoons put it into practice. She adds: "We were shown different antennae and we made one ourselves. Slides and presentations were used a lot. [The

workshop organisers] have a lot of experience in the subject because they have set up wireless networks all over Mérida."

Some fan out from the University, where EsLaRed is based, toward other areas. They also take advantage of the mountain for transmitting. "We worked with a software programme to see where the antennae should be located and at what height,” explains Ojeda.

Cristina Ojeda attended with a scholarship from the Association for Progressive Communication’s Women’s Networking Support Programme. The scholarship was specifically destined for women technicians. It also

benefited Norma Alegre, from the Mexican organization Modem Woman (Modem Mujer).

A total of 50 people attended the workshop on wireless networks, of whom 15 were women. "There were many women, and many women knew a lot," Ojeda comments. She thinks that the high rate of participation of women in these workshops is basically due to a cultural issue. She explains: "Venezuela is a region where women are very involved in computer science."

"The courses were hyper-intensive, 10 or 12 hours a day: one was about products, another was about IP in Latin America. The organisers took advantage of the opportunity to present the WILAC website (which focuses on

wireless networking in the region). Richard Stallman, the Free Ssoftware movement leader, was present. There was a black out at precisely the moment he started talking about (proprietorial software giant) Microsoft", laughs

Cristina Ojeda.

(Translation: APC)

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