We are pleased to announce the latest appointment of Dr. David Johnson to our team, a pioneer in the field of rural connectivity.

Dr. Johnson has a wealth of experience in academia, the private and public sector and community wireless projects. He has arrived from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa where he has been a Principal Researcher in the Networks and Media group. He has worked on numerous rural connectivity projects, drafted broadband and spectrum policy for South Africa and collaborated with major companies such as Google on TV White Space (TVWS).


David Johnson
David Johnson measuring TVWS in Philipstown, a town in the eastern Karoo region of South Africa.

Ammbr is not the first ambitious project David has taken on. For example, he helped design and build Africa’s first rural wireless mesh network in 2005 and began work on South Africa’s first TV White Space experiments in 2010, not long after the FCC approved the use of TV White Space in 2008. This work eventually led to his involvement in the TV White Space trial with Google in Cape Town in 2012, and the eventual drafting of South Africa’s TV White Space regulation in 2017. This regulation is to be published in the coming weeks. He continues to push the envelope in TV White Space research and has been carrying out work on hybrid TV White Space and WiFi solutions, smart channel selection and adapting mesh network protocols for TV White Space.

While studying for his PhD at the University of California in Santa Barbara, David deployed VillageCell in Zambia – Africa’s first OpenBTS-based community GSM system, which allowed users to make free local mobile calls, send free SMS messages and make cheaper outgoing calls. He also partnered with local researchers inn Zambia to uncover the world’s first social graph of Facebook traffic in a rural village. This research showed that close to 60% of messaging and image traffic on Facebook was between local users. This led to the creation of an edge-caching service, called VillageShare, to allow users in a village to share content over their local mesh network without using external Internet links.

Dr. Johnson’s passion for the creation of community owned networks will be essential in our efforts to connect the unconnected, and he has cited our potential to close the connectivity gap as his reason for joining the team.

“AmmbrTech provides an opportunity to bring together all the principles I am passionate about, such as lowering the cost of access and owning your own telecommunications infrastructure, and combines these into a product,” he explained. “Ammbr has the potential to reach communities on a massive scale and could potentially plug the connectivity gap for billions without Internet, and lower the cost of access for those who are hamstrung by predatory prices from existing operators.”

Dr. Johnson also holds an adjunct position in the computer science department at the University of Cape Town, where he supervises Masters and PhD students, and presents a course on networking for development. He received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of California in Santa Barbara in 2013, focusing on new architectures for Internet access in developing regions. He has 71 publications and has spoken at top conferences. He also published a book in 2015, called “White Space Communication: Advances, Developments and Engineering Challenges”, an overview of TV White Space protocols, hardware, spectrum databases and deployments.

David’s appointment truly excites our team and we are confident that, with his expertise and experience, he will add tremendous value to our goals in developing inclusive connectivity and economic tools.