Edwin Reed-Sanchez is the founder of SayCel, a company that implements low cost communications infrastructure solutions in developing regions. Currently, SayCel operates a network on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, and won the 2015 Stern Berkeley Social Venture Award. His work in communications technology grew out of research started at ITP’s Tower of Power class, and low cost GSM technology became the focus of his thesis.
Edwin and his research group at SayCel is funded by the RiskEcon Lab at NYU’s Courant Institute, and they focus on open source development of cellular solutions. SayCel held a hackathon at Courant, where they collaborated with members of Rhizomatica, a Mexico based non-profit running 16 indigenous community networks, and with FreeRadio Brazil. SayCel is also active member in the Telecom Infra Project, a Facebook initiative that aims to reimagine the deployment of communications infrastructure.
Edwin is also the New Technology Manager at Robofun, a company that provides technology and robotics classes to kids at over 100 schools through out the NYC.
Prior to graduating from NYU ITP, Edwin managed Bluefield’s Sound System, a non-profit multimedia resource center in Nicaragua that received funding from the UN, USAID, and UNDP.
For many users in the 1st world cellular and internet service is a given, but in many parts of the world this is not the case. Two billion people lack affordable communication and 700 Million people who have no coverage at all.
In Nicaragua, the cellular call can cost up to $0.50 a minute, and the Internet penetration rate is at 26%. In the U.S., a country where the average income is 15 to 20 times greater than Nicaragua, a minute normally costs only 17 cents, and Internet has a 90% penetration rate. For most of Nicaragua's residents, and for many other parts of Latin America, having adequate communication or Internet services requires great financial sacrifices.
SayCel is a social venture that helps communities on the Autonomous Region of Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast to own and operate their own cellular and emergency networks. In this talk we will discuss the history, challenges and successes of installing community based networks in rural areas. We will cover the political, and technical issues associated with such ventures.