Connecting the Unconnected: A Tool for Digital Inclusion 

by Aniq Ur Rahman, Anish Jindal & Khac-Hoang Ngo

Idea: The remote regions with sparse populations remain unconnected due to the low return on investment estimated by the Telecommunication operators. The project aimed to theoretically deploy a local wireless network in such remote areas and then connect them to the nearest internet point of presence, thereby making the network global.

Summary: They devised an algorithm which can analyze the spatial distribution of the population in a remote region and deploy a network which maximizes the coverage subject to budget constraints. The network can then be powered by the nearest internet point of presence or linked to the satellite network through a standalone gateway node. The network throughput and deployment cost were then jointly optimized by tuning the network hyperparameters through reinforcement learning.


  • They published theircwork in IEEE Communications Letters in early 2022, titled “Network
    Graph Generation Through Adaptive Clustering and Infection Dynamics: A Step Toward
    Global Connectivity”.
  • Following this, in June 2022, they presented a poster titled “Optimal Network Deployment
    for Global Connectivity” at the 2022 EuCNC & 6G Summit in Grenoble, France.
  • They organized a hybrid panel presentation on “Connecting the Unconnected” during the
    IEEE WoWMoM conference held in Belfast, United Kingdom.
  • They are currently working on packaging the algorithm and other analysis code to release
    it publicly on GitHub by the end of this year.
  • They have treated the problem of backhaul link type selection mathematically; however,
    more research is needed to tabulate the cost and quality specifications of various link
    types available. For this they have collaborated with more researchers, and aim to carry
    out the work in 2023.
  • In 2021, they participated in the 6G Summit’s Connected the Unconnected Competition,
    co-sponsored by the Marconi Society, and secured the first position. They worked on a
    concept called Cactus Mesh, which aims at affordable connectivity for remote areas. The
    work was also presented at KAUST Research Open Week, Saudi Arabia, as a poster.