Mahabir Pun is the founder of Nepal Wireless Networking Project and is popular as the man who brought WiFi to the Himalayas. He was born in a remote mountainous village of Nangi in Myagdi district of western Nepal. As the village did not have proper facilities for education, Pun’s father moved the family to Chitwan where he finished his high school and then worked as a teacher for 12 years.
Pun got an opportunity to pursue graduate studies in the US at the University of Nebraska, Kearney. After completing his Master’s degree in Education in 2001, Pun returned to his village with a vision to provide educational opportunities to rural children so that they did not have to undergo the struggle that he had been through in his childhood. He joined the local leaders in establishing the village high school and taught computer classes with four used computers donated by visitors from Australia.
During that period, Internet was in its infancy in Nepal and Pun had to undertake a long trip of 8 hours to Pokhara to even check his email. He then set a goal for himself to bring the internet to the people of his village. He emailed BBC asking for ideas. The turning point came when BBC immediately interviewed him and published his story. Volunteers from across the world helped him establish the wireless connection using TV dish antennas mounted on trees. Within two years Nangi village was online.
In the year 2007, Mahabir Pun was honored with the Ramon Magsaysay award for his innovative application of wireless technology in Nepal. He has been called a “global connector” by the Internet Society and has been inducted into the society’s Internet Hall of Fame in 2014 at a ceremony held in Hong Kong. He says his journey will only be complete when all the villages in Nepal are connected to the Internet.