First site up and running
We did it! After much fiddling around with equipment and an adventure getting the antenna and mast up and secure, our first pilot site is running smoothly, offering local service for $1.2o USD per month (with long-distance to come in the next days). So far around 90 people have signed up and the base station recognized over 400 active cell phones in the area, so we expect more to sign up for service soon.
We also had a lively discussion with the residents about how they wanted their system, the first of its kind that we know of, to run. One interesting thing that was proposed by one of the attendees and unanimously passed was to automatically limit the call duration to 5 minutes in order to allow others to make calls in case the available lines become saturated.
This first install is the culmination of over two years of planning and organizing, key equipment donations and many hours of volunteer labor from a number of very talented people. We couldn’t be happier with how it is going and are learning much from this initial experience and the feedback users are providing in the town.