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3air weekly AMA, 8th June 2022 @5pm CET - DRC and Ethiopia Update!
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3air weekly AMA, 8th June 2022 @5pm CET - DRC and Ethiopia Update!
3air
3air
June 08, 2022
32 min

Table Of Contents

01
Introduction
02
Sandi Bitenc, CEO of 3air Joins the AMA:
03
Sandi’s update on general crypto/market conditions:
04
Introducing Dejan Skok:
05
From Dejan point of view - How is Africa connected to the world?
06
How do you connect a new ISP?
07
What is the process of adding TV channels?
08
Explanation of terminologies used:
09
Who owns the landing stations and cables?
10
Can Africa stand on its own without relying on submarine cables?
11
Update on Ethiopia and DRC rollout:
12
What is radio planning?
13
Breakdown of major tasks ahead:
14
About internet connectivity:
15
What do you think the main challenges in connecting in Ethiopia and DRC will be?
16
Can you learn from the local people to help the project move forward?
17
What parts of Ethiopia and DRC will you focus on first and how many base stations will be needed?
18
Update on timing for the next AMA’s:

This is a transcript from our weekly YouTube live AMA:

SPEAKERS: Anita Mlakar, Sandi Bitenc and Dejan Skok.

About AMA: DRC and Ethiopia Update!

AMA Duration: 1:01:26

Introduction

Anita Mlakar: 00:06

Hello everybody and welcome to 3air’s AMA, it is so nice to have you here. Anita Mlakar is my name, I am the host of this AMA, and we are here every Wednesday at 5pm Central European Time, I hope you’re doing fine, and I can see that some of you are already with us. So please go ahead and write in the comment. How are you today? And where are you so that we will look at it a little later.

00:34

So, what we are doing, this is something that I’m gonna tell you at the beginning but first, let me invite you to be a part of our channels. We are having great discussions and debates on our channels on Discord, on YouTube, Of course, here you can follow us and be a part of it, subscribe to it. Then you have telegram and Twitter of course. And if you have any question, you can just ask it there. Sandi, the CEO of 3air is there a lot of times and also other administrators and they will of course help you. So do that be a part of our communities, participate or invite friends, if you feel that someone should know more about our project, and I will introduce the project a little bit and what we are doing at 3air.

01:22

So 3air is a blockchain based telecom platform focused on bringing broadband internet, digital TV and telephone to millions of Africans. 3air’s mission is to connect Africa’s unconnected population to the rest of the world through blockchain based ultra-fast wireless broadband access. If you are unconnected, you’re in a way underpowered. So, we are trying to give people internet connection to empower them. And at the same time, we are trying to educate people and we are doing that with two technologies, K3 Last Mile Solution, and 3air internet. We also create your digital bank account giving you a wallet custodial or non-custodial. We are providing financial services, we have Fiat onboarding and off boarding ramp and peer to peer cash, crypto onboarding, DeFi and so on and so on.

02:14

We also have outside partners that will provide additional digital revenue streams. And once we put you through all these steps, you are connected. You are banked. You are empowered. So, we are glad to have you here. Sandi Bitenc, CEO of 3air is of course also with us.

Sandi Bitenc, CEO of 3air Joins the AMA:

Anita Mlakar: 02:34

Sandi, hello.

Sandi Bitenc: 02:36

Hi, Anita. Hi, everyone.

Anita Mlakar: 02:39

Hey, Sandy. Are you excited about today’s AMA?

Sandi Bitenc: 02:42

Of course, I am. I am excited about every AMA.

Anita Mlakar: 02:46

Really?

Sandi Bitenc: 02:47

Aren’t you?

Anita Mlakar: 02:48

Yeah. I’m always like, on some speed or something, you know? I’m joking.

Sandi Bitenc: 02:56

You’re hardcore.

Sandi’s update on general crypto/market conditions:

Anita Mlakar: 02:57

Yeah. Sandi, how are you? Are you good? Is everything okay?

Sandi Bitenc: 03:02

Yeah, everything’s fine. Yeah, I have my some personal things I need to take care of now. You know, the date is closing. So, it’s a bit stress on that part but in regards to 3air, things are right now are going well. There’s, of course, you know, the downtrend it’s still persistent, kind of it looks like it’s gonna, you know, turn but then it drops again, you know, immediately. So, yeah, we’re following that really closely. We’re also right now in the middle of publishing our NFT marketplace and the token claim app. So, I think this will be done during our AMA, actually. So, when we are a bit late on that one, we promised it on Monday evening, but it’s going to be on Wednesday evening. So, it was mostly because we wanted to go through all of the tokens that you know, for each token holder manually to see that everything is really as it should be. So hopefully, there are no errors. We don’t want to make any errors in regards to, you know, people being able to claim their tokens and once we put it on chain, it’s unchangeable. So yeah, we need to be really sure.

Anita Mlakar: 04:41

Okay. And today, Sandi, we’re going to be a little bit more technical. We are always, you know, there’s always something new for me every time but this time it’s going to be special one, right?

Sandi Bitenc: 04:53

Yeah, we’re going a bit more into deploying in a new country. So, let’s see. We have a specialist today, in our AMA that can answer some questions that have been also asked before in the community, I’m sure they want to know a bit more how this will work, you know, what the plans are and what it actually takes?

Introducing Dejan Skok:

Anita Mlakar: 05:21

Yes, we have made the announcement. So, let’s just invite our special guests. Dejan Skok is with us. Welcome Dejan. And we’re really happy to have you here. Hi!

Dejan Skok: 05:34

Hello, guys.

Anita Mlakar: 05:36

Meeting you in person or let’s say online.

Dejan Skok: 05:41

It’s really nice to be here. Thank you for invitation.

Anita Mlakar: 05:44

Of course, thank you. Now, Dejan, this is your title, a Network Architect and Rollout Manager. What is someone with that title doing actually, could you explain?

Dejan Skok: 05:59

I will try to be very short. It is a lot of things to be done but most important thing is to plan the whole operation. So, to plan the whole Telecom, technically. So, this means that everything needs to be planned from let me say, first switch to the last cable model that it will be connected at the customer site and everything in between.

Anita Mlakar: 06:31

I’m just saying that this is amazing because this is, you know, like, new area for me.

Dejan Skok: 06:37

Yes, it is pretty much amazing. Although it’s not easy task to do because at the end, this is Africa. And we are implemented the new infrastructures, and what needs to be done takes about, I don’t know, 2-3-4 months for one country for one city to be ready to roll out.

Anita Mlakar: 07:02

Okay, then how well do you know Africa? How many times or in what way were you there?

Dejan Skok: 07:09

Basically, I was many times in Africa, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, when we were deploying the first triple play ISPs and I need to say that those memories and those what should I say? Impressions and that experience that I got there. It’s really, really new for me. And I need to say that it’s really nice there, I love it.

Anita Mlakar: 07:43

Really. And people are also nice.

Dejan Skok: 07:46

People are nice, people are happy. It’s a new world for me and I can’t wait to deploy new countries, new worlds to explore new people to meet them. And yes, it will be really good when we start Ethiopia and DR-Congo.

Anita Mlakar: 08:07

But it is probably different from Slovenia, right?

Dejan Skok: 08:10

Yes. As I said, it’s a totally new world different culture and it’s amazing to work with the people there.

Anita Mlakar: 08:19

Great. Sandi, you should confirm that. Yeah, because you have also some experience in Africa.

Sandi Bitenc: 08:26

I’ve been a few times, I didn’t work so much with the people there, but you know, I interacted with them. And it is different. Absolutely! And I’ve been travelling the world for some time and been to a few countries. What I find different there is their perception of time, it just nothing is on time. I don’t know Dejan, if you have the same experience as me, you know, time doesn’t mean anything there you set up an hour where you want to meet, and they’ll probably just show up two hours later if you’re lucky or maybe even the next day or so. It’s like fluctuating this, really.

Dejan Skok: 09:12

Yes, I can totally confirm that but on the other side, I feel that the people are very curious. They want to know how things are done and they’re around you and asking you questions. How did you do that? How can this be done and stuff like this? So, I need to say that they’re curious and I love that because I really love to pass my knowledge to other technicians, to other people because you know, there’s a 20-25 years of experience in IT and I don’t want to keep it for myself.

Sandi Bitenc: 09:51

Yeah, they are more open and they’re not afraid to ask questions. When you’re somewhere in Europe, people just, you know, they’re kind of afraid to ask questions. They don’t want to approach you and so on. It’s different. It’s different there.

Dejan Skok: 10:07

Yeah, it’s true.

From Dejan point of view - How is Africa connected to the world?

Anita Mlakar: 10:10

It’s really nice to hear that because part of what we are doing is also educating people. And in a way, we’ll be doing that today, too. So yeah, people who wants to know more. People who ask questions are always welcome. And so are you, all of you who are with us today, you are free to ask questions, because today, we have the man Dejan here and he has a lot of answers to the questions that are being asked also in our communities. I have questions too, Dejan, of course. That’s why we are on this AMA. And let’s just say let’s start from the beginning. What I would like to know maybe for starters, from your point of view, how is Africa connected to the world?

Dejan Skok: 10:57

This is interesting question. I was wondering, like 10 years ago I was also asked the same question. And basically, the Africa is connected to the rest of the world via are submarine cables. We have west coast of Africa and East Coast of Africa and there are about eight submarine cables now deployed, and managed by different companies, different shareholders. And those cables are going from country to country in let me say, west coast of Africa. And they are ending mostly in Portugal and going upwards to London. On the East Coast, you have also like five, six submarine cables, I need to mention that all those cables or optical cables. And those cables on the east coast of Africa are ending in Marseille. And they’re again going from country to country. And if you want to connect Africa to the rest of the world, you need to find that landing station in the coastline of Africa in the specific country, then you need to find the correct cable that is connected, let me say to the Portugal or to London so that you’re able to connect also to your upstream provider. So, it’s quite a difficult task, because there is a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails, to get to the right person that you can talk to. And then you can start negotiating the demarcation points where to connect? How to Connect? which protocols to choose? and stuff like this.

Anita Mlakar: 12:47

Yes, it’s from the beginning, right?

Dejan Skok: 12:49

Yes, it’s from the beginning. So, this is almost the first step that the board is asking me then do we have a connection in this country? Yes, probably we have but I need to figure it out, how and where.

Anita Mlakar: 13:06

Amazing.

Dejan Skok: 13:07

Yeah.

How do you connect a new ISP?

Anita Mlakar: 13:08

We have already some questions coming in. We will go through our conversation but yes, like D said, look, here is a question. Take us through the beginning, starting from no infrastructure to the deployment. And this is what we will do today in a way. So maybe my next question regarding that. So, you are building, you’re connecting, and how do you connect newly built ISP to outside world let’s say.

Dejan Skok: 13:36

Okay, as I already said, the first thing that we need to figure it out is to find out which submarine cable lands in specific country. So, our next deployment is DR-Congo and Ethiopia if we focus let me say for Democratic Republic of Congo. We have a web page submarine cable map and there is information in which city which cable lands. So, in Muanda or Pointe-Noire, I don’t know exactly, now which one is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but in this city, then we need to find a landing station and who manage this landing station mostly it’s government managed those lending stations because this is government authority. And from that point, we start to negotiate how can we connect to this landing station and when we have everything confirmed, after that, we need to find out how we will get this link from the landing station to our head end basically our head end is our data center when all our core equipment is installed, core routers, core switches, servers, TV head and equipment like I don’t know transcoders, streamers and stuff like this. So, the first thing is to know how we will get the pipe to the outside world.

Anita Mlakar: 15:18

Okay, that answered the question from D, who’s asking what’s involves in starting services in a new country? These are logical questions.

Dejan Skok: 15:28

Yes, of course, I mean those things takes for example, to get everything done just for one country for one landing station, it took about two months to have solid information to have confirmations where we can connect various our demarcation point in specific landing station and after that, there comes also a details of which type of cable? which type of connector? which type of protocol we will use? so that we can prepare correct equipment because some landing station are using, I don’t know, STM connection type, some other are using Ethernet. And, yeah, we can talk about this for next few hours, but I will try not to go in really, really low level it has.

What is the process of adding TV channels?

Anita Mlakar: 16:23

Okay, if anybody wants to know, of course, they will ask but I’m asking questions as a woman as someone who likes to know more. And my question, of course, is how do you then out of this gets, let’s say TV channels?

Dejan Skok: 16:37

Okay, this this question is, really, let me say we need to be careful about this, because we need to divide the technical part from the licensing part. From the technical part, we can get the TV channels after the licensing and broadcasting rights are done. So, we need to sign first of all, our management, our board team needs to sign our broadcast rights for the TV channels. And when this is done, we get requirements how those TV channels needs to be protected for the rebroadcasting licenses, so that we can rebroadcast those TV channels to the end customers because those contents are not allowed to be free to air. And we deployed for that case, Widevine conditional access security, so that unauthorized access to the TV channels is not possible. But okay, if we go to the technical part, we receive then the TV channels from providers either from either via satellite. So, then we need to use a dish and satellite receiver then the provider gives us card for the descrambling the TV channels so we can rebroadcast them. And then those TV channels are transcoded to the codec we are using now H265 codec, which is really good because we are keeping the bandwidth in the back end really low. And on the other side, if we don’t receive TV channels from the satellite, we are receiving it via IP. So, the providers gave us as I don’t know, a special IP address, username and password and via access list we are then allowed to get the TV channels into our system.

Anita Mlakar: 18:46

Well, amazing.

Dejan Skok: 18:48

Yeah.

Explanation of terminologies used:

Anita Mlakar: 18:49

There are so many new words used in your explanations. I will write down a vocabulary, you know, of it. You mentioned head end before, and you explained it a little bit but then you were talking about transporters, right?

Dejan Skok: 19:08

Yes.

Anita Mlakar: 19:09

I would really like some additional explanation also base stations and stuff like that. Could you tell us more about that just for understanding?

Dejan Skok: 19:17

Of course, I will try to be as least technical as possible. I mentioned head end and so this is basically our data center, our core infrastructure is there installed as already mentioned, like core routers, core switching servers. In failover installation, this means that we don’t install only one set of reinstall at least three. They are all running OpenStack and on top of that we install virtual servers, and those virtual servers are meant for different scenarios. We have TMS installed under like Telecom Management System, we have DHCP, DNS, network monitoring, and everything what is needed for one telecom to run.

20:13

And as I already mentioned, there are transcoders installed. Those transcoders are transcoding input TV streams, because you need to know that the TV streams that are coming from the satellite, and on the other side TV streams that are coming via optical cable, they’re not the same. And with this transcoders, we are transcoding the TV channels that the output TV channel is always the same. So, from different outputs, we get one output which is good for us, which is stable. And we can manage this after the TV channel gets out of the transcoder. It gets caught by casts by a conditional access server. And this conditional access server puts security on this TV channel. So, if you’re not let me say, K3 customer, you’re not able to watch this channel even if you have access to the channel, it’s scrambled. So, basically, this is it.

21:27

And you said also you mentioned the base stations. Yes, the base stations are basically the Micro POPS, Micro Point of Presence. This means that when we do the radio planning, we define where we will install our base stations because everybody knows that last mile solution from K3 is wireless solution, and it needs to be done by radio planning. So, before we go on field, on site that is in Kinshasa we are sticking our heads with our team and try to find the best possible points where to install our equipment, so that we can cover which base station the most area that we can. So, this is it.

22:23

Then there is another thing, which is interconnection between base stations and head ends, this is called backhauling and yeah, another.

Anita Mlakar: 22:35

Another one.

Dejan Skok: 22:37

Another one, yes. And we prefer to have this on Fiber Channel on fiber optics. But in most cases in Africa when there is no infrastructure this is not possible. That’s why we are using the radiofrequency links point to point which are mostly installed in paid frequency. So, then we have a link, and this is the core infrastructure from the telecom from the, let me say, upstream provider which represents our window to the world. It is just like you’re sitting at home and your internet provider is Company A that also each Telecom has its own internet provider, not one but at least two because we need to be multihomed that means if one cable is down if one router is down if whatever is down, we need to be able to be online so that the customers are not suffering service outage.

Anita Mlakar: 23:56

There are many challenges that we cannot imagine building infrastructure or starting something in let’s say in the area of Africa it’s really different from if you’re doing it in Europe probably.

Dejan Skok: 24:07

I would not say it’s a very different in case of technology. Because also in Europe we are using DOCSIS technology as we are in Europe, we are also using GPON optics, we are using whatever stuff LTE and this is mostly, let me say, DOCSIS is not so much present in Africa, but we can find some pieces of GPON, some pieces of fiber optics but the most important difference between Europe and Africa is time. As Sandi, already mentioned, time is running different in Africa. And if you want to do something, if you need to get some information in Europe, you will get this information like from today, to tomorrow, and in Africa, you’re sending emails, and then you’re waiting.

Anita Mlakar: 25:09

And we are complaining in Europe that we don’t get data or information, you know, in short time, but we do, actually, we should go a little to Africa just to have a feeling how it is there.

Dejan Skok: 25:21

Yes, this is true. And for the first time that I was in Africa, this was a shock for me, because I was expecting that everybody will be on time that I will get information that I need today, and then I said, okay, then you’re not in Europe now, please, switch and but it’s nothing wrong with that but because at the end, everything is done. So, you just need to be patient and you will get what you need.

Anita Mlakar: 25:59

Okay, this is good to know, you know, when we get to Africa, eventually it will happen.

Dejan Skok: 26:06

Of course.

Anita Mlakar: 26:07

Then you mentioned radio planning in between.

Dejan Skok: 26:11

yes, I mentioned radio planning, this is basically the coverage that one base station can cover. On one base station, we have multi points installed. Each multipoint is basically an antenna, this transmission antenna, which can cover 90-degree sector. And most of the time we are installing two or three sectors on one tower. We rather go with two towers than one. Why? Because if we install more towers, more base stations than one, then we can cover more customers. Someone will tell me, okay, I will buy only one sector, I will tell him don’t buy two, because you know, you have people that are staying behind a higher building, and they cannot see our first tower but if we install another one, they can make a connection. So, this is then the really difficult thing is radio planning because on Google Earth on other tools, everything looks great, and everything looks perfect. And when you come to the city, when you see the situation with your own eyes, then you need to think fast and talk to the people because, again, to rent a tower to have a clearance to install your equipment on one tower. It’s not easy to get, because there is again, a question how much weight you will install on one tower, how much square feet one antenna is using because of wind and everything, you know, there can be not too much equipment installed on one tower because with the wind tower can fall. And again, a lot of things that it was learned in last 20 years on this field. So, if anyone has some questions, just shoot, I can explain really in details because when you touch one piece of this puzzle, you have bunch of questions. And when you touch one of these questions, you get another bunch of questions.

Who owns the landing stations and cables?

Anita Mlakar: 28:46

Yeah, I can just imagine, look, Richard has a question. He’s asking, can you tell us who the owners are of the landing stations and the cables?

Dejan Skok: 28:57

Okay, the owners of the landing stations are mostly governments, but the owners of the cables are private companies. So, for example, the newest submarine cable that is being put in production, or it will be put in production is I think from the Google just let me check how it’s called. It’s called KIANO and this is privately owned by Google and the rest of the cables. One is owned from, MainOne from Nigeria for example, the rest are owned from Cogent, from Hurricane Electric, Tisparkle Telecom, those are all tier one worldwide Telecom, internet providers that we are connecting to them. And if you take for example, one cable I don’t know ACE which lands almost in each west coast of Africa. Then you find a shareholder that is okay with you. And you negotiate the price, the protocols and everything, then you can connect to the cable.

Can Africa stand on its own without relying on submarine cables?

Anita Mlakar: 30:17

Okay. Now, Jose is asking, Can Africa stand on its own without ever relying on submarine cables?

Dejan Skok: 30:27

I think no. I think now, it’s not the question only for Africa, those submarine cables. If you guys will take a look of the submarine cable map, just Google it, you will see that the whole world is interconnected with those submarine cables, even from Europe to the United States, from Europe to South America to Indonesia, to each part of the world is interconnected with submarine cables. And before that, there was what can I say? Some VSAT links via satellite but those links are unusable for telecom, because they have a very big latency. And also, those links are really expensive. And with submarine cables, the capacity of the links is getting cheaper and cheaper. And although you need to know that, for example, 10 gig of capacity in Sierra Leone costs I don’t know about $60-70,000 per month. And this is really not cheap and that’s why you will not find in Africa packages like we have in Europe. For example, at my home, I have package on internet 600/100 megabits per second. I mean, because of the price of the uplink and the infrastructure, electricity and everything in Africa. It can be done, but it’s not cheap. The most important thing is that we go to Africa and introduce the broadband internet, which is not so widely spread, because most of the people are using LTE connections and paying per gigabyte when it’s no more gigabytes left are paying again. And we are introducing the broadband internet, the flat rate. And people are really happy for that.

Update on Ethiopia and DRC rollout:

Anita Mlakar: 32:49

Yeah, I can imagine. We are also here today to talk about an update of Ethiopia and DR-Congo. And this is also Richard’s question, can you give us an update on the project planning for both of them?

Dejan Skok: 33:02

Yes, I can give you an update. There is a project file with over 250 tasks to be done for each country.

Anita Mlakar: 33:13

To do list.

Dejan Skok: 33:15

Yes, it’s a to do list and this to do list is really huge but at this point, we are doing technical due diligence and based on our radio planning and everything, we are now getting the correct micro locations where people install like equipment, we are getting contracts for uplink providers for a setting up head and space, for setting up tower locations because there is not just to install equipment on the tower. We also need the facility beneath the tower. This means that we need one system rack 42 units high with ups, with diesel generators because electricity is not so stable. That’s why we need our own power source, and those tasks needs to be done before we go to ordering equipment and everything but initially each equipment is already defined, what it will be, ordered what it will be installed. We are now just setting those micro locations where it will be installed.

Anita Mlakar: 34:39

Is it possible to talk about timing?

Dejan Skok: 34:43

Timing… We know about situation. What is happening in last two years not just in Europe, but in whole world there is a really huge push back getting equipment and that’s why we were planning this months ago, and reserving some equipment because the estimated delivery dates, last year were those days like, I don’t know, two months. And now we are at 360 days. So, we are talking about enterprise network equipment, enterprise features, enterprise routers, and those things are really difficult to get. And but no worries, we will get it on time.

Anita Mlakar: 35:49

This is just prolonging the situation. But yes, I can imagine.

Anita Mlakar: 35:52

Sandi, hey!

Sandi Bitenc: 35:54

I’m back. You’re doing a great job, really but I do have a question. So one is, actually you’re talking about the problem with the supply chain, right? So that’s an issue about getting the equipment but I did want to jump in. And you know, in regards to the timeline, I think you are planning right now into going to Ethiopia and DRC. Is that correct?

Dejan Skok: 36:26

Yes, this is correct.

Sandi Bitenc: 36:28

Okay, so this is coming up in the next few days, I think, right?

Dejan Skok: 36:32

Yes.

Sandi Bitenc: 36:33

Okay, what you need to do is you need to send us some pictures or some videos from Ethiopia and DRC when you’re there.

Dejan Skok: 36:40

For sure, we will do it.

Sandi Bitenc: 36:42

Cool.

Anita Mlakar: 36:43

Yeah, that’s great because this is always interesting. Guys, I would just like to ask you, how technical is that for you? Because there are so many technical questions earlier on. So yeah, this is really deep into.

What is radio planning?

Sandi Bitenc: 36:58

I really liked it. I liked the technical nitty gritty details but what else I wanted to ask you, you were talking about radio planning, what is actually radio planning? How does it look like, you know when you’re there, what you’re actually doing?

Dejan Skok: 37:15

Okay, the first thing that we do is as I already said, we do the dry radio planning and we are using tools like Google Earth and similar and then we go on site and when we are on site, then we really see if this is it, but it was planned on the Google Earth and what needs to be done then is let me say testing. So, when we decide okay, we will install equipment on this tower, we install it and we need to do drive tests this means that when the planning is done, when the equipment is installed, we go into a car and really go on the field and drive to find the edges of where the signal is really good. So that we know which area is then covered. And this is then premier connecting customers to our system. So yes, and as I already said, this special radio planning software and stuff like this helps us a lot but then what you see on the field, most of the time is the same so that we plant in software, most of the time everything is done the same on the field.

Breakdown of major tasks ahead:

Sandi Bitenc: 38:43

Okay, could you maybe tell us a bit you know, what the major tasks are that you need to do? You said there is a list of 250 tasks? Can you point a few big ones out and you know how they go? You said first is you know, there was a lot of done already with planning and everything, you know, now you’re gonna go on site, see everything, then you need to order the equipment when you’re on site, you know, all the equipment that you need, and this gets ordered, you know, then this is going to be delivered and what’s in between, you know, there’s going to be a team on ground, you probably need to train those, then you need to set it up, you know, just give us a few of this big tasks up until you can connect the first clients.

Dejan Skok: 39:31

Okay, so, the first I will go from the technical part because there are a lot of tasks that management needs to do but from the technical part, so we need to know first of all, where to connect to our upstream provider, so the various landing station, how to connect to this landing station, then we need to define place for headend where our core equipment will be installed. Then we need office, local office, where local people will be working, then we need to take care where we will install our base stations, so micro locations of towers. Then, as you already mentioned, equipment needs to be ordered, equipment is pre-installed and pre-configured in Europe, our team will arrive to do on site and we need to train technicians and employees, how to install the equipment, how to troubleshooting, so everything needs to be, not everything, but everyone needs to be trained to do to be able to solve most of the first and second level issues by their own. And so, training is really important. Then the next really important thing before we start to connect customers, of course, it’s marketing. What should I say? Those are milestones that needs to be done, yes.

Sandi Bitenc: 41:28

So, you’re running the majority of this will be the local team. So, with local people, right? So, you will be giving also employment to the local people.

Dejan Skok: 41:37

Yes, this is true.

Sandi Bitenc: 41:41

Is there you know, any specific way how you look for those employees, or, you know, how you do it? Is there also some place if maybe somebody watching us right now from DRC, or Ethiopia or something like that can apply for a job or something like that?

Dejan Skok: 42:01

I believe yes, I’m not sure if this is already established, but for sure, it will be in the future, when we are so far that we will start hiring local employees and we will do training on our telecom platform, we will do on site local training, because everything cannot be depended on us, we need local people that we depend on them, that everything will be installed as it should be. And also, they will depend on us that we will help them in case of some bigger issues, bigger problems. So, within next one, two months, it will be ready that we will give the people the opportunity that they will apply for the job, and they will send also their CV so we can review them. And after that, we will do job interviews, and we will decide about our new coworkers. But yes, I need to point out that the local team is really important to us.

Sandi Bitenc: 43:16

So how many jobs you think this will create in the next, let’s say a year or two there?

Dejan Skok: 43:27

You want me to predict? I hope a lot because the plans are that we will connect a lot of people in short time. And I believe that somewhere in between 50 and 130. If you’re asking me in the next year, year and a half.

About internet connectivity:

Sandi Bitenc: 43:53

That’s cool. That’s really nice. Okay, so I have one more questions then I’ll give it over to Anita again. So, you were talking before about TV, but nothing has been said about internet. Can you also tell us a bit about how we get the internet from, you know, from let’s say the undersea cables and the end points and stations there to then to the end user. Just that we don’t talk only about TV as our main product is actually internet, broadband internet.

Dejan Skok: 44:27

Of course, no problem. I already mentioned those submarine cables and landing stations and upstream providers like Hurricane Electric, Tisparkle, MainOne and there is a lot of them of course. So, we decide, which upstream provider we will pier. We need, as I said, two of them because each telecom needs to be multihomed. So, if for some reason one of our upstream provider is down, we are still connected to the second one. Then the internet link comes into our head end, into our edge routers, there must be at least two of them again, for failover we are doing BGP protocol for failover upstream connections. And after that the Ethernet connection goes from the head end to the base stations via backhaul links that were mentioned before. And then there is one special router installed in each base station which is called CMTS router. And this thing basically it’s a gateway between two worlds and one world is Ethernet world and the second world is frequency world, because our last mile solution is based on CMTS which can be run wirelessly. So, the end user equipment is nothing else than ordinary cable modem. So, this cable modem can understand CMTS signaling and from this CMTS router, the packages are transformed from Ethernet to the radio frequency and then at the end customer side again they are transformed back from the radio frequency to the Ethernet.

46:31

So, the end customer will see that the cable modem on the input there is Cox cable that will be installed, and, on the output, they will have for example four ordinary LAN ports, where STP will be installed where they can connect their own routers, computers and all other network equipment. So, this is basically it. But in everything in between its managed by the TMS. And this telecom management system is then as my colleagues already mentioned in the previous AMS, it’s for management, those people for management IP addresses for management, uptime and everything what needs to be managed in such telecom like this.

What do you think the main challenges in connecting in Ethiopia and DRC will be?

Sandi Bitenc: 47:30

Okay, I just came up with another question, but I promise this will be the last one. So, you have quite vast experience already with telecoms in Africa. But I wanted to ask you, how do you think this will be different now in Ethiopia, in DRC? And where do you see the main challenges? What do you think, you know, are going to be the toughest things to solve?

Dejan Skok: 47:59

The toughest things to solve. Okay, Ethiopia, maybe will not. I don’t see that it will be so much challenging. But for example, I see Kinshasa will be more challenging, and I will tell you why. We have a landing station in the coastline, but Kinshasa lies about 400 kilometers inside the mainland. And there are optical connections from the landing station to Kinshasa. And at my information, those cables are in failover, those cables are reliable. And we need to focus to find upstream providers directly in Kinshasa. And I think this will be the most challenging thing besides that, for example, Ethiopia’s capital has a lot of hills around it, and this is also challenging for radio planning. And this is always challenging how to do radio planning, so that you are covering at most possible customers from the beginning. So, if you have a flatland there are almost no challenges about radio planning, but if you have a lot of hills, like for example, Sierra Leone, Freetown it’s really hilly and there are a lot of hills and those are challenges.

Anita Mlakar: 49:36

Okay, Sandi, he is good, right? He knows everything.

Sandi Bitenc: 49:39

Oh, yes.

Dejan Skok: 49:40

I don’t know everything, but this is one thing that I believe that no one knows everything but this scenarios and in this part of my job, I believe that I know a lot.

Sandi Bitenc: 50:03

For sure you do.

Dejan Skok: 50:05

So, if anyone has any question, just shoot.

Anita Mlakar: 50:09

Okay, I would just like to know, Dejan, where did you get the knowledge? How does one become Dejan Skok?

Dejan Skok: 50:16

Everybody can become Dejan Skok, this is not a problem. You just need to have this wish, this drive to know things, to learn things, because each day I also learned something new. I own a lot of certifications, a lot of everything but this is not important if you’re not working with the equipment if you’re not finding something new, if you are not in, you know, what I want to say, you need to have this drive.

Sandi Bitenc: 50:53

Curious I think and open to new information.

Dejan Skok: 50:58

Yes.

Sandi Bitenc: 50:59

Also be ready to admit that you’re sometimes wrong, yeah. And as you said that you don’t know everything. Once you think you know everything, then it’s game over.

Dejan Skok: 51:06

No! I believe that I will die very sadly because I already now know that I will not know everything.

Anita Mlakar: 51:16

And get all the answers.

Dejan Skok: 51:17

And get all the answers. This is not possible.

Sandi Bitenc: 51:19

Like a curse.

Dejan Skok: 51:22

Yeah.

Can you learn from the local people to help the project move forward?

Anita Mlakar: 51:24

Dejan, can you learn a lot from the locals?

Dejan Skok: 51:28

Yes, can learn a lot from the locals. And one really important thing that you can learn from the locals is mindset because if you want to push them something from Europe, this is not good. You need to listen to them. You need to listen to their needs. And from that perspective, you can learn a lot from them because also, if you’re not talking about now, from Telecom, from technical parts of everything, but if you’re talking only about life, I want to be as happy as they are, because I find people in Africa very happy. And maybe we need to learn from them how to be happy.

Anita Mlakar: 52:21

This is good. Getting the knowledge because we are always complaining.

Sandi Bitenc: 52:28

I had this experience wherever I was, you know that people didn’t have everything, that they kind of struggled a bit with everyday things. They had a different mindset. I remember it so really, I was in Sri Lanka, driving around on the Tuk Tuks and you know, I was talking to the driver. And he was like, when I make enough money for my daily meal, then I’m free because I asked him how many hours he works. And he said, it depends. You know when I make it for my food, and you know, I’m done with work. And it’s like this, it’s still day by day, and they can accept this, I don’t think that we in Europe can actually accept it. It’s always if you don’t have for a year on the side, something like that to live, then you’re under stress, right? What’s going to be tomorrow and so on. So, they’re not really bothered what’s going to be tomorrow. They’re living today, in this time, and I think that makes you happier than you know, always thinking about what’s going to be tomorrow, you never can know what’s going to be tomorrow and we tend to be a bit more pessimistic than optimistic.

Dejan Skok: 53:46

Yes, this is true, because we all or not all but most of the people in Europe, we have long term commitments we have, I don’t know financial commitments to the banks and everything and you need to be sure what will happen next year, what will happen- I don’t know next month, just like you said, and this is not in Africa. And they are not bothering as you said what will be tomorrow? what will be next month? No. They’re just living the day, carpe diem.

Anita Mlakar: 54:24

We have different perceptions of happiness. I think that is because for some people happiness is just being alive and getting through the day and for some is to have, I don’t know, the best car or being financially grounded or something. So, this is a difference, yeah.

Sandi Bitenc: 54:43

That is never happiness.

Dejan Skok: 54:45

Not happiness, right!

Sandi Bitenc: 54:49

It can help you maybe become happier, but it doesn’t, you know, that’s not happiness for sure. And usually, it’s a burden to be honest. You know, I’ve seen a lot of people that have a lot and they’re just depressed and they’re just, you know, striving to get more and more and more. And that’s for sure not the road to happiness.

Dejan Skok: 55:07

This is true. And I will advise the people go to Africa, be there, but not in some touristic resorts with 5-6-7-8 stars and stuff like this, go there be in the city like Freetown, Monrovia, Kinshasa, Addis Ababa, be there with the people and you will feel the vibe, that it’s really different. And I started to look at the world from different perspective when I got home. So, this changed something in me. And I see the world different now. And as you already said, you can have billions and millions and I don’t know how much cars, but for sure you’re not happy.

Anita Mlakar: 56:00

I will take your advice, you know, Dejan, I will go to this parts of Africa when I’m there.

Dejan Skok: 56:06

I will send you pictures.

Anita Mlakar: 56:07

Yes, do and someone just wrote down that is looking forward. And Richard, that he is really looking forward for you to share pictures. And then we will of course, share that on Telegram and Discord. Yeah.

Dejan Skok: 56:23

We will do it.

What parts of Ethiopia and DRC will you focus on first and how many base stations will be needed?

Anita Mlakar: 56:24

Richard is also asking what parts of DRC and Ethiopia will be the first focus and how many towers approximately will be placed? If you could answer that.

Dejan Skok: 56:36

Okay, no problem. The first installations in Democratic Republic of Congo will be in Kinshasa, we are planning three towers to be installed with altogether I believe six sectors. So, each tower will have two sectors installed. And Ethiopia, we will focus also on the capital Addis Ababa. And the same, we will install three towers with six sectors. So those are the first cities that will be installed. And after that, we will spread around the countries.

Anita Mlakar: 57:13

Okay, thank you.

Dejan Skok: 57:14

You’re welcome.

Anita Mlakar: 57:15

Now, we went from technical to a little soul, you know, relying on things and then we went back to technical, but this was really a nice conversation, I would really like to thank you, Dejan, for being with us. And also, for satisfying those who are really technically strong and have really good questions. And of course, educating us, others who don’t know so much about it, you’re doing a great job, please continue that.

Dejan Skok: 57:41

Thank you!

Anita Mlakar: 57:41

And please do send pictures, videos, report from wherever you are in Africa, because this is really something that we can learn from.

Dejan Skok: 57:52

I will I promise.

Anita Mlakar: 57:53

Thank you.

Dejan Skok: 57:55

You’re welcome.

Sandi Bitenc: 57:55

Thank you. That was really nice having you here. And yeah, enjoy the rest of your evening.

Dejan Skok: 58:02

Thank you very much.

Anita Mlakar: 58:03

Thank you, Dejan. And I hope we’ll see you soon. Bye. Bye.

Dejan Skok: 58:06

Bye.

Anita Mlakar: 58:07

Wow, that was great. It was over like [click] that.

Sandi Bitenc: 58:07

Bye.

Sandi Bitenc: 58:13

It was really, yeah, that’s true.

Anita Mlakar: 58:18

Amazing, you did promise something will you give us a little information about?

Sandi Bitenc: 58:23

I was chatting a bit. So, we have everything on the live server, we are still testing a few things. And we’re adding some NFTs. It looks really everything works now. And but it’s not on the app domain. So, I would say we need half an hour more or something like that, just adding really the NFTs and then it’s going to be live, it’s going to be on app.3air.io. So now we’re discarding the presale.3air.io, where you bought the tokens and you held them up until now. So, this is right now not operational. It doesn’t show you the tokens and so on. So, we moved everything to app.3air.io. We needed to change some things just to really be able to put it later on chain. And yeah, this is going to be now the final Apple app. And we’re just going to build upon this and adding new stuff into it. So, this is going to be the app that you’ll be working with, you know the whole 3air time.

Anita Mlakar: 59:30

Thank you for the updates. And this is the closing of this AMA, of course, we would like to invite you to be with us on our channels on Discord, on Twitter, on Telegram and follow us here. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’re here every Wednesday at 5 o’clock PM Central European Time. And we are happy to have you here. So yeah, thank you and we are also on social networks, yeah.

Update on timing for the next AMA’s:

Sandi Bitenc: 59:55

Absolutely! So just for the next three AMAs, next week, probably everything’s going to be fine. It’s going to be at 5pm Central European Time, I will be somewhere on the move from Dubai to Slovenia. So, I’ll be meeting you really soon. But hopefully I’ll be there at 5. I do think I’ll have internet somewhere at 5. And then the next week, we’ll need to change a bit the time, alright?

Anita Mlakar: 59:59

A little earlier Perhaps?

Sandi Bitenc: 1:00:29

Yeah, probably we’ll do it like two hours or three hours earlier. We’ll announce it. Pretty soon, how we are moving it. And then on the 29th that’s going to be I think, like a really special one. We’ll have a really cool guest, a really high-level guest from the blockchain scene. So, you don’t want to miss that one on the 29th.

Anita Mlakar: 1:00:59

Yes, thank you for the update. And thank you for being with us. Dejan, was a great guest I really enjoyed it. And thank you Sandi for giving up this last information. Now, let’s go and have a beautiful day. Okay, everybody or beautiful evening, whatever.

Sandi Bitenc: 1:01:17

Yeah, it’s dark here. So, for us, it’s already night.

Anita Mlakar: 1:01:21

Okay. Bye bye.

Sandi Bitenc: 1:01:24

Bye bye.


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3air weekly AMA, 20th July 2022 @5pm CET - Weekly Update & Next Steps at 3air
3air weekly AMA, 20th July 2022 @5pm CET - Weekly Update & Next Steps at 3air
This is a transcript from our weekly YouTube live AMA: SPEAKERS: Anita Mlakar and Sandi Bitenc…
3air
July 20, 2022
12 min

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