Two college students at have designed a communications network that could bring internet connectivity to remote locations around the world (see video below). The wind and solar-powered wifi hotspot, which was taken down from the Campus at the Rochester Institute of Technology to make room for a parking lot, provided a working offgrid wifi hotspot for over a year.
Dan Lampie and David Brenner, who both graduated from the RIT in May, wanted to design an inexpensive communications network that does not rely on pre-existing infrastructure. And although the prototype did rely on pre-existing infrastructure (it pulled internet signal from an office 1/3 of a mile away), it could be reconfigured to run via a system of daisy-chained repeaters or from a satellite phone/modem, the latter would make it usable virtually anywhere around the world. Adding the sat-phone capability would also add a significant cost to the project.
There are already satellite internet companies that can service just about anywhere so I'm not exactly sure how this system would differ from hooking a satellite internet dish from a company like HughesNet up to a a small wind turbine, battery and solar panel. The students do say on the website that because they were on a limited budget (this was not a funded project) and because campus wifi was already available, designing the more advanced prototype was not viable.
Read more about Lampie and Brenner's project at turbinehotspot.com