Advisory Board

Dr. Yahel Ben-David

Yahel Ben-David, Ph.D. is a social entrepreneur who works at the intersection of wireless networks, freedom enhancing technologies, and social development. He is the Executive Director and Cofounder of De Novo Group, a nonprofit that bridges the gap between research and impact by turning novel university research into applicable technological solutions to address the needs of deserving communities in developing regions.

He manages multi-million dollar projects which bring together world-renowned ICTD (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) researchers, and practitioners dedicated to bridging the digital divide and harnessing technology to increase civil liberties.

Yahel is the Founder of AirJaldi, a social enterprise established in Dharamsala, India. This company empowers communities through wireless networks. Early in 2005, following the deregulation of outdoor use of WiFi in India, they built their first network, the Dharamsala Community Wireless-Mesh Network, in cooperation with the Tibetan Technology Center.

He is also the Cofounder and CTO of the Tibetan Technology Center since 2006. This is a charitable organization dedicated to harnessing modern technology for helping the Tibetan community in India. The center is located at the Tibetan Children’s Villages School (TCV) which hosts and supports it.

Yahel earned his Master’s of Science in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010. In 2009, he became a Researcher and Instructor at its Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. In 2015, he earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

He was the BERKE1337 Competition Team Captain (2013–2014). This is a group of computer security enthusiasts at UC Berkeley which competes in the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) each year, in addition to a variety of smaller offensive security competitions. Yahel continues his affiliation with Berkeley’s TIER (Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions) research group.

In 1984, while still in high school, Yahel hacked the computers of a leading daily newspaper to publish a blistering critique of one of his teachers. While he got in trouble, this episode also paved the way for his career as an IT security expert.

Over the next 3 decades, Yahel accumulated diversified hands-on experience in leadership, design, deployment, and research of computer security and networks in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

In 1993, Yahel cofounded the Xpert group, a multinational IT security and network solutions firm. At Xpert, he designed and led the technical setup for some of the world’s most advanced networks, managing large scale and complex projects for Fortune 500 companies and governments. Upon the sale of his Xpert group holdings in 1999, Yahel moved to Dharamsala in the Indian Himalayas, the headquarters of the Tibetan community in exile. There he founded the Tibetan Technology Center (TibTec) and AirJaldi. AirJaldi became an exemplary model for sustainable delivery of affordable broadband Internet services to rural communities, and continues to expand to this day.

Yahel is passionate about connecting the next billion people to the Internet, while ensuring it remains uncensored and free.

He is currently focusing on multiple projects through the De Novo Group:

  • Project Celerate (2013-) The Celerate project is a De Novo Group initiative to provide affordable broadband Internet access to rural communities around the world, thanks to a grant from and in collaboration with scientists at Berkeley and Stanford.
  • Rangzen project (2013-) To design, build, and support infrastructure-independent, wireless networks that are robust against attacks by oppressive regimes, enabling anonymous communication among citizens.
  • Further Reach Internet (2014-) Bringing lightning-fast, ultra-reliable, broadband Internet to rural California.

Read the news Google grants $2M to researchers bringing broadband to rural California. Read the news from NPR, A Wireless Network for ‘Little Lhasa’. Watch his TedxEuclidAve talk, The next Billion.

Listen and watch his interview on behalf of Connect Cambodia. View his Berkeley Academia, dblp, Google Scholar, and Semantic Scholar profiles. Read about his research at ResearchGate. View his list of peer-reviewed publications while he was at Berkeley.

Visit his LinkedIn profile. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.