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RNP will test network solution of UCA program

RNP was invited by the Presidency of the Republic to test the network solution of program “Um Computador por Aluno - UCA”(One Computer per Student). These portable computers should be interconnected in mesh, which allows each knot of the network to be also a disseminator of the network access for more distant knots, in chain.

The project that is performing the evaluation of the Mesh Network of UCA is being called Ruca. What is intended is to evaluate the characteristics of the hardware and software of wireless networks and the routing protocol for mesh networks implemented at UCA. RNP contracted its Work Group in Mesh Network to coordinate the tests, which will be performed by researchers from UFF, UFRGS, UnB, UFPB, USP and Ufam. These universities will be testing the laptops in two possible environments. Within the classroom, in the middle of a large concentration of computers, and so, subject to interference among terminals, evaluating the capacity of the routing software to choose the best among the large number of existing routes.

Another environment to be tested is outside the school, where the network will be sparse. In this scenario, the reach and the quality of the access will be evaluated, as the computer gets farther and farther from its point of access to the Internet, at the school. Furthermore, it is expected to establish installation parameters of the access points for the internal infrastructure, considering small, medium and large schools, and of external infrastructure. The end foreseen for this evaluation project is September, when RNP should present to the President’s Office in Brasília a report with its opinion on the solution of laptop network.

About UCA

UCA is a project developed by scholars from the Media Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with the objective of promoting modern education at low cost in remote locations. The project, also known as US$100 Computer, was presented in Davos, Switzerland, in January, 2005, at the meeting of the World Economic Forum. The countries that participated in the first stage of the project were Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Lybia and Thailand.

Within the Brazilian scope, the initiative involves seven ministries, a work group from the Presidency of the Republic and three research centers contracted by Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (Finep) [Financing Entity for Studies and Projects] among which, RNP. The pilot project, which will last throughout the school year, will take these pieces of equipment to students and teachers of the public network basic teaching. The initiative will be implemented in ten schools of the states of Amazonas, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo and Tocantins, in addition to the Federal District.

Three models of laptop will be distributed for performance evaluation, all with have a Linux platform. They will have available a processor of 500 MHz and 128 MB of DRAM, with 512 of MB of flash memory presenting no hard disk, just four USB ports. According to their designers, their use is encompassing, but the data storage capacity is limited.