Engineering students from the University of Zambia will be working with the science club from Frances Davidson High School to design and implement an OpenBTS (Open Base Transceiver Station) at a community skills training school in Chikanta Village. The project aims at bridging the digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas with access to telecommunication services.
The university students will procure, customize, configure and test the unit, which will have a radius of approximately 50 meters and can make up to a maximum of 7 simultaneous calls. It will be able to support voice calls and text messages, and will be compatible with any SIM card that has a power requirement of 100 mW. The major internet hotspot available in Chikanta is solar powered.
Working with non-profit group Macha Works, students will try and solve connectivity issues between rural and central sites for mobile networks, and also study legal and regulatory requirements for the scope of the project in Chikanta. Each student will receive credit for their work at the university.
The transceiver will be mounted and installed with the help of the high school students. The high school students, meanwhile, will study Radio Frequency and Wave propagation, and also be shown how a communication system and its component parts work. Different antenna types and sizes, as well as power requirements and maintenance for the OpenBTS system, will be explained.
At the end, students will be asked to present some aspects of the project and their acquired knowledge of telecommunication systems at the national science fair.