Arusha Node Marie: An ISP with a difference
The Arusha Node Marie (ANM) this month celebrates its 10th Anniversary. The society has reached an advanced stage in its epic journey that started in 1994 with only a dial-up service via a node in Nairobi or UK. Nyamanoko Bwire of the Arusha Times has this week invited the Chairman of ANM, Mr. Gilbert Maeda to shed light on the Societyís activities.
What is Arusha Node Marie?
Arusha Node Marie is a user owned and controlled Internet Service Provider run as non profit making organization, committed to providing and encouraging the use of quality Internet services to the public through membership and philanthropic activities.
ANM was established in 1994 and formally registered as an NGO on 17th May, 1997. It is composed of individuals and Institution members. A Constitution governs and regulates its affairs and is managed (on voluntary basis) by a Management Steering Committee whose members are elected at the Annual General Meeting from among its members.
What services do you provide to your members and what are the "Philanthropic activities"?
∑To provide electronic information sharing and networking within Tanzania.
∑To link member organizations and individuals internationally through electronic communications.
∑To build membership awareness and provide support for internet services by providing, Education bulletins and seminars, and Support services when our systems are changed or upgraded.
∑To maintain quality Internet access and services through research and utilization of new technologies and methodologies.
In your society you have what you call "philanthropic activities". What are they?
Since Arusha Node Marie is a non-profit making Organization any extra funds obtained by way of membership fee, subscriptions and donations are applied to enhance its efficiency and upgrade its services to its members in pursuant of its objectives. It is one of our objectives also to provide free internet service to qualifying educational and medical institutions in and around Arusha. Our aim is to catalyze an interest in, access to, and familiarity with modern information technologies as represented by the Internet, to students who will be the future managers and decision makers in Tanzanian. And this is what we mean when we talk of Philanthropic activities.
Currently Arusha Node Marie provides free Internet services 16 such Institutions:
How does one become a member?
Any individual or institution who agree to rules and regulations stipulated in our constitution and aspire to the values laid therein are welcome be members of ANM
As an Internet Service Provider how do you differ from the others?
W are the only "member- owned" ISP in Tanzania and, proud to say, the only one with a Philanthropic initiative like ours!
This Year you are celebrating your 10th Anniversary. What have you accomplished?
Our number has grown from year to year from the original 12 members to the current 800! I donít have figures for the other ISPs in Arusha, but I doubt if any of them can compare. We have moved from the original dial-up to wireless-cable and soon to fiber optic connections as connection choices for our members. We believe our services are surpassed by none.
Now that there are other ISPs in town, what is the impact of competition?
We like to consider them as our partners in progress rather than competitors and we would like to have them emulate our examples in philanthropic activities, for example.
What are your plans to reach out more people and ensure quality services?
We will continue to provide wireless and dial-up access. However, we believe for a majority of the users they will be better served by wired technologies. This would mean fiber optic to within 1 km of the user and then DSL modems over quality copper lines. This means no user would be affected by what others are doing, like what happens with wireless. We are replacing our current wired network with this new system, which has less links and therefore better uptime and more speed. The other advantage of wired networks is that later we will be able to provide voice (telephones) and cable TV over the same network, and this is in our plans. We have always worked on improving quality of service and this step is just another step in ensuring that.
Is the technology that you are using the right one? I notice others are
using wireless broadband.
First let me say that the term "broadband" is not being used properly in Arusha. Broadband means over 1Mbps speeds so that you can use streaming video. Secondly, only wired networks can supply broadband to a large number of users at the cheapest price. Thirdly, we have the largest bandwidth in Arusha to share to all members and we have 3.2Mbps only!. So no one can really supply to the end user broadband at this time, unless the user can pay 6-8,000 dollars per month.
Wired networks are easier to troubleshoot than wireless.
Wireless definitely has its place and we will
continue to use it, but cable has proven to be the solution in municipal areas.
The problem is that it takes longer to roll out. How do ISPs who
provide wireless access connect to the Internet in developed countries? By
WIRE. The only reason we have Satellite connections to the Internet here in
Tanzania is because we of yet, don't have undersea fiber optic to Dar. This
could, however, be a reality in year 2006.