Blockchain For Africa: Interview – Derick Smith, CEO, Ammbr

Derick Smith, CEO, Ammbr

Hey, Derick, thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, how’s Crypto life treating you?

DS: That’s hard to say, since we haven’t been very active in the crypto space. We purposely stepped back at the height of the activities at the end of 2017, beginning 2018. We did not want to be distracted from our mission.

Can you tell us what the Ammbr project is all about?

DS: Ammbr is aimed at changing traditional telecoms business models to be more inclusive, and empowering communities and individuals to collectively build out broadband infrastructure.

It’s clear that the Ammbr project and Ammbr Tech are two separate things under the same umbrella. What other things do you guys do over at Ammbr Tech?

DS: We are working on a number of related technology challenges that complement our core wireless networking solution. These include edge cloud computing, payments and distributed electricity trading.

How did the Ammbr project and team come about?

DS: We formed out initial core blockchain and business team up in 2016 and pivoted to telecoms in 2017, at which point we brought on telecommunications experts.

What made you decide that Africa was the place that needed the most attention right now?

DS: I am an African and have done business across the continent for decades. With that said, we are not 100% Africa focused, and have business teams in the US, and Asia too. My co-founder is Indian, so the subcontinent is also of immense importance to us.

How many different local communities have you tested in so far?

DS: We have two ongoing trials, and several more lined up. However, real commercial deployments are beginning to come to the fore, so trials are going to become less important except for newer product developments.

Many people have compared the Ammbr project to Skycoin. Can you tell us the main differences, in your own opinion?

DS: I’m not well versed in Skycoin’s proposition – it seems to be a blockchain linked VPN system that runs over existing infrastructure. Ammbr also has VPN-like features, but we are primarily about building out physical network where none existed previously.

Regarding the Ammbr ICO, what made you guys cancel back in November 2017, and what’s the reason for deciding to run one now?

DS: Looking back we are happy with the decision because we were still very early in our development cycle. Software projects can run very fast and deliver a working MVP. Hardware is entirely a different kettle of fish. (Unless you are simply delivering a Raspberry Pi with an app on it.) It has taken us a year from the initial announcement of our project – six months from where the ICO was supposed to take place – to deliver working hardware. Now we have three differentiated hardware products and some sales.

Many people have pointed out reasons for the failure of so many ICO projects in the last year. My view is that they did not demonstrably achieve product/market fit, and no amount of funding can fix that.

The Ammbr project is now in a position to clearly demonstrate commercially ready product, and strong market fit in different markets.

Do you have any details on the upcoming crowdsale?

DS: The details will be forthcoming in the coming weeks. The team at Global Blockchain Mining are really experienced in running token sales, and through them we are going in at a level we would likely not have attained alone. So it’s going to be an exciting time.

We have three technical questions for you regarding the Ammbr Mesh Device; –

If the unit is designed to be a portable solution, has battery life been tested, and how long is a unit expected to last on battery alone?

DS: There are 3 models in our lineup. One is a portable unit, with sufficient battery power for 24 hours of operation.

The solar unit, used for fixed broadband access, recharges its battery, and operates autonomously as long as there is sufficient sunlight in the day.

The home unit has a much smaller battery as standard, providing surge protection and 4 hours operations. This is a requirement in many countries where the grid and electricity supply is erratic. Additional battery units can be added.

How many devices can be connected to one device simultaneously?

DS: A standard router can support 255 users on WiFi. We can also deliver high-density units that support higher concurrent WiFi users. But that figure is really dependent on how much back haul you have i.e. the available bandwidth to the router. So in reality it would be much lower if you are giving a reasonable user experience.

Are there any plans to have an Ammbr powered mobile phone?

DS: Yes, but that is quite a way off.

Thanks.  So, when will we be able to get our hands on one of these stunning devices in the UK?

DS: We are shipping in small quantities to specific business partners now. In early 2019 we will ramp up production and fire up distribution channels in the US and Asia. Europe is a little off our radar, but with the right partners we could speed things up.

Lastly, can you give us some details on how people can find out more about Ammbr, and get involved in your community?

DS: The main interactions take place on our Telegram channel, but an email is always welcome.

Thanks again Derick, it has been a pleasure speaking with you.

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