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Alcatel-Lucent joins with Cafés Malongo, the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, and Voilà to launch a WiMAX network in the isolated rural areas of Cap Rouge in Haiti


Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) today announced that it has set up broadband Internet access in the isolated rural areas of Cap Rouge in Haiti. This follows on from the cooperation agreement signed May 30, 2007 with Cafés Malongo, the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, and Haiti’s mobile telephony operator Voilà to improve coffee traceability.

This pilot project called “Traçabilité du Café” (Coffee Traceability) will give three of Haiti’s coffee cooperatives* Internet access from their plantations by applying WiMAX and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies. By having such access to the latest information technologies they will be able to monitor the traceability of their Fair Trade Certified products and sell their coffee on the best possible terms by reducing the number of intermediaries. Training in information technology, in particular for the 1,200 small producers belonging to Haiti’s cooperatives is also being planned within the scope of this project. This project again demonstrates Alcatel-Lucent’s commitment to narrowing the digital divide and combining economic development with social responsibility.

The project’s main goals are to:

- help Haiti’s farming communities, so that they can manage coffee production to meet demand and improve production techniques through appropriate remote learning in order to make the cooperatives more profitable,

- help develop expertise in two advanced technologies (universal WiMAX for broadband Internet and RFID labels for traceability) to support the development of rural telecenters in Haiti,

- pioneer a range of innovative services in agricultural telecenters to serve education, health, e-government, and ecotourism, etc.

The four partners have mutually supportive roles to ensure the success of this unprecedented cooperative venture in Haiti:

- Alcatel-Lucent has provided the telecommunication equipment free of charge (a WiMAX base station and the associated terminals) and helped set up and run the project,

- Cafés Malongo, operating in Haiti, is providing the funding and designing the software for the coffee traceability system, while maintaining its medium-term presence in the country in order to help finalize the Project’s applications,

- the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, which has had a presence in Haiti since 1998 when it created the MBDS (Interactive Multimedia, Database and Systems Integration) masters qualification and initiated the project. It is committed to providing project management, developing the necessary software applications, and finding a variety of local partners to ensure that Haiti’s agricultural cooperatives and an NGO get involved in the project,

- the operator Voilà has undertaken to bear all the connection costs for two years for the seven connected sites, from the time when the connection was first set up, and to operate the WiMAX base station supplied by Alcatel-Lucent.

This project has also received considerable local support from FACN (Federation of Native Coffee Producers), SSII Solution Haiti, the State University of Haiti, the Ministry of Public Works, Transport, and Communications, the telecommunications regulatory body Conatel, as well as the French Embassy.

Thierry Albrand, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent’s “Digital Bridge” initiative says: “The final arrival of this broadband Internet access for use by coffee cooperatives, schools, and a free health center at Cap Rouge in Haiti is going to create economic and social development opportunities for the communities it serves. Our contribution to this exciting project, together with our main partners Cafés Malongo, the University of Nice, and Voilà, is yet another step along the way in our determined effort to narrow the digital divide around the globe.”

* members of the Fédération des Associations Caféières Natives (FACN) [Federation of Native Coffee Producers]


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