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Rural Mesh networking pioneer David Johnson joins AmmbrTech

LA HULPE, BELGIUM, March 13, 2018 / -- Ammbrtech has announced the latest appointment to the team - a pioneer in the field of rural connectivity, Dr. David Johnson.

“Dr. Johnson has a wealth of experience in academia, the private and public sector and community wireless projects," remarked Ammbrtech CEO Derick Smith. “We’re excited and confident that, with his expertise and experience, he will add tremendous value to our goals in developing inclusive connectivity and economic tools.”

He joins Ammbrtech from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa where he was a Principal Researcher in the Networks and Media group. He has worked on numerous rural connectivity projects, drafted broadband and spectrum policy for South Africa and collaborated with major companies such as Google on TV White Space (TVWS).

Dr. Johnson helped design and build Africa's first rural wireless mesh network in 2005 and began work on South Africa’s first TV White Space experiments in 2010 not long after the FCC approved the use of TV White Space in 2008. This work eventually led to his involvement with the TV White Space trial with Google in Cape Town in 2012 and eventual drafting of TV White Space regulation in 2017 to be published in the coming weeks. He continues to push the envelope in TV White Space research and has been carrying out work on hybrid TV White Space and WiFi solutions, smart channel selection and adapting mesh network protocols for TV White Space.

While studying for his PhD at University of California, Santa Barbara, he deployed VillageCell in Zambia - Africa’s first OpenBTS-based community GSM system that allowed users to make free local mobile calls, send free SMS messages and make lower cost outgoing calls. While working in Zambia he partnered with local researchers to uncover the world's first social graph of Facebook traffic in a rural village. This research showed that close to 60% of messaging and image traffic on Facebook was between local users. This led to the creation of an edge-caching service called VillageShare to allow users in a village to share content over their local mesh network without using the Internet link.

Dr. Johnson’s passion for the creation of community owned networks will be instrumental to AmmbrTech’s efforts to connect the unconnected and he has cited AmmbrTech’s potential to close the connectivity gap as his reason for joining the team. “AmmbrTech provides an opportunity to bring together all the principles I am passionate about, such as lowering the cost of access and owning your own telecommunications infrastructure, and combines these into a product,” Dr. Johnson explained. “AmmbrTech has the potential to reach communities on a massive scale and could potentially plug the connectivity gap for billions without Internet and lower the cost of access for those who are hamstrung by predatory prices from existing operators.”

Dr. Johnson also holds an adjunct position in the computer science department at the University of Cape Town, where he supervises Masters and PhD students, and presents a course on networking for development. He received his PhD in Computer Science from University of California Santa Barbara in 2013, focusing on new architectures for Internet access in developing regions, and has 71 publications across the wireless domain. He has also published a book, called “White Space Communication: Advances, Developments and Engineering Challenges”, that provides a good overview of TV White Space protocols, hardware, spectrum databases and deployments.

Derick Smith
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