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Inktomi’s founder wants wireless for all.

Cheap computing still isn’t cheap enough, says Eric Brewer, founder of Web-search company Inktomi. Brewer heads the University of California, Berkeley-based Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions project.

Is Moore’s Law letting us down?
Even a hundred-dollar computer is too much for billions of people. The bigger problem is that we design technologies for the First World, then hand them down and hope they’re useful. A lot of times they’re not.

What’s your focus?
Reliable shared infrastructure and low-cost, point-to-point wireless connections. We’ve already got 10-kilometer broadband links, using $800 worth of modified Wi-Fi gear. Simulations say we can get to 80 kilometers.

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Who runs it?
It has to be local stakeholders on the ground. They can be volunteers or entrepreneurs.

Why not just invent another great search engine?
When you have a billion dollars – even just on paper – you start to think, What do I do with this stuff? I don’t have all the money anymore, but I still have the interest in getting the benefits of IT to everyone.

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