Mohamed-Slim Alouini leading a delegation to the MACC site following installation of the Terragraph technology.
KAUST is proud to announce that the Terragraph Connectivity Project coordinated by the KAUST Communication Theory Lab run by Prof. Mohamed-Slim Alouini, KAUST Smart and IT Networks and Communications received second rank in the category Social Project, which is one of the Global Excellence Awards delivered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in Saudi Arabia. The project, which was done in collaboration with Meta and the Communications, Space and Technology Commission (CST), provided a testing ground for bringing high-speed Wi-Fi service to communities with no or limited affordable access.
KAUST, META and CST have been cooperating since November 2021 to deploy hybrid radio frequency and free space optics developed by the Communication Theory Lab for reliable internet connection to the camp of the Modern Architectural Contractual Company (MACC), which provides a number of support services to KAUST. The camp is located 1.5 km outside the campus in the town of Thuwal and is home to over 3000 people.
Almost all the residents are foreigners, and the technology gives them at the very minimum an opportunity to interact with family in their home countries. The success is a framework to bring other remote and unconnected communities – where the deployment of fibers is difficult and costly, or, as Prof. Alouini likes to say, "Connect the unconnected."
Currently, billions of people have no or unreliable internet access.
The project is one example of KAUST's mission to give back to the community through innovation. It also aligns with many objectives of Saudi Vision 2030, including sustainable development, higher quality of living, and expanding digital access nationwide.
"Our goal is to see that our research on these advanced technologies will bring global connectivity in a sustainable fashion and will contribute to a digitally inclusive and sustainable world," said Fahad Alqurashi, a KAUST Ph.D. student developing the wireless communication technology used in the project with Alouini.
“The Terragraph Connectivity Project is an exemplary project in the use of innovative technologies for social impact. This award is also a testament of the sound performance of project management practices adopted and implemented at KAUST," added Samara S. Barhamain, Solutions Project Manager, KAUST Smart.
The PMI describes itself as the leading authority of project management, offering courses and certification for professionals in the industry. The Saudi Arabia chapter is just one of 300 around the world. The Social Project of the Year Award recognizes the project that had superior project management and was innovative and successful for a community. This year, more than 300 projects were considered for the award.