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A specially designed Wi-Fi broadband network is enabling thousands of residents of remote villages in India to be treated by doctors remotely for eye problems.

Through the long-distance, low-cost network, the Aravind Eye Hospital in Theni is able to examine patients over a high-quality video conference, BBC Online reports.

Development of the technology was undertaken by researchers at the University of California lead by professor Brewer.

Sonesh Surena, a student at the college who assisted with the research, said: "Ours is a solution tuned to the needs of developing areas; NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) don't have the resources to implement the more expensive long-distance systems such as WiMAX."

The service is currently available to over 50,000 residents in the area, of whom some 2,500 use the video conferences monthly.

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