This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Solar Power Systems Bring the Internet to the Navajo Nation
Internet connections and telecommunications services are hard to come by if you're nowhere near a telephone line, and harder yet if you have no power. But as of late February, more than 80 communities in the Navajo Nation were newly connected to the Internet using the latest in satellite and wireless technology. For those sites without power, solar electric systems provided the answer. According to STM Wireless, Inc. and OnSat Network Communications, Inc., a total of 115 satellite systems will be installed on Native American lands through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Solar Electric Light Fund is providing funding for the solar electric systems. See the STM Wireless press release.
See also the Solar Electric Light Fund Web site.
DOE has a program to bring renewable energy installations to tribal lands, called the Tribal Energy Program. See the program's new Web site on EREN.
While solar power is great for systems in the middle of the desert, you don't need to live in a remote community to use solar power for telecommunication and Internet services. In fact, the community of Stelle, Illinois, claims to operate the first off-grid, solar-powered telephone switch in North America. The Stelle Telephone Company uses a 3-kilowatt system to power its phone switch as well as its Internet servers. See the Web site.