Mahabir Pun: I start­ed build­ing a wire­less net­work in my coun­try Nepal in ear­ly 2000, when the wire­less tech­nol­o­gy was just com­ing. Nobody then believed that it was pos­si­ble to build a wire­less net­work in the remote Himalayan region, and to bring Internet to the remote vil­lages where there are no roads, no telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices. So nobody believed it. I start­ed build­ing and con­nect­ing vil­lages and brought Internet, and taught peo­ple how to use the com­put­ers and the Internet. Slowly we found that the Internet can be used for oth­er things than just you know, send­ing emails or check­ing some web sites. So we are now using the Internet to pro­vide health ser­vices, e‑learning ser­vices, and some local ecom­merce ser­vices as well as some com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices for the people.

Intertitle: Describe one of the break­through moments of the Internet in which you have been a key participant?

Pun: Yes. I mean, for me the most mem­o­rable break­through that I think we made was in 2002, when we built the first long-range wire­less link using a sim­ple wifi router and a home-built anten­na. So we con­nect­ed the first vil­lage that was thirty-four-plus and six kilometers—that was alto­geth­er forty kilo­me­ters away from the near­est city. And nobody then believed that it was pos­si­ble to build a long-range wire­less net­work with wifi. So that was the break­through, and that was a very mem­o­rable time for us when we made that happen.

Intertitle: Describe the state of the Internet today with a weath­er anal­o­gy and explain why.

Pun: I would describe it as…quite…good weath­er. It’s good weath­er because you know, the Internet is still in its infan­cy. And it is still grow­ing, and we don’t know how far it will be able to go. But it is in quite good con­di­tion right now.

Intertitle: What are your great­est hopes and fears for the future of the Internet?

Pun: Mostly the con­cern I have that there are still over two or three bil­lion peo­ple still who have not been able to use the Internet, or have not been able to get ben­e­fit out of the Internet. That’s my con­cern. Other than that you know, the tech­nol­o­gy’s improv­ing very fast and at an amaz­ing pace. So I hope that the Internet will be improved much more and will be much bet­ter, cheap­er, faster, and will help even the peo­ple liv­ing in the remote or less-developed coun­tries of the world. And that it will bring good ben­e­fit for the people.

Intertitle: What action should be tak­en to ensure the best pos­si­ble future?

Pun: I’ve worked inde­pen­dent­ly in Nepal for sev­er­al years to bring the ben­e­fit of the Internet in remote areas where peo­ple had nev­er heard about the Internet. I’ve tried my best and I have been work­ing very hard for the last twelve years. So what I learned from my expe­ri­ence is that it’s not how hard just a few peo­ple or a few orga­niz­ers work to bring the ben­e­fit of the Internet for the pop­u­la­tion of a coun­try, it’s not enough. The gov­ern­ment must take ini­tia­tive to pro­vide the ben­e­fit of the Internet to the whole pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try. So what I’m try­ing now is to work with the gov­ern­ment to find ways to bring the ben­e­fit of the Internet to the whole pop­u­la­tion, not just a few seg­ments of a com­mu­ni­ty or a few peo­ple who are liv­ing near the cities.