Hauling the Internet to an Ex-Soviet Outpost High in the Caucasus Mountains

Several months ago, a team of men ascended the Greater Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. They led horses loaded with electrical wire, solar panels, batteries, toolboxes and drills powerful enough to grind through rock.

With jagged ridgelines above and shadowed valleys below, the men were involved in an unusual project: to bring the internet to one of the world’s most remote places: Tusheti, a rural province on the Russian border.

Tusheti’s clean air, crisp blue skies and mountain-studded landscape already attract some tourists, but government officials think there is potential for many more. Access to the internet will make it easier for travelers to book reservations online, but it will also stir e-commerce and local business development, and give a lift to health care and education services in the area.

Financed largely through a $40,000 grant from the Internet Society, a global nonprofit, the workers came from local organizations: the Tusheti Development Fund, the Small and Medium Telecommunications Operators’ Association and Freenet, a local internet service provider. They offered materials or services for free, or at little cost. They all felt a connection of some kind to the Tusheti mountains.

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