Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Ken Novak's Weblog
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Wireless Freedom! - Radiophony
: "Welcome to Radiophony, innovative audio solutions in communications for ordinary people. Our aim is to promote ways to make the Internet accessible for everyone. We have recently helped set up a community audio center in a village in Andhra Pradesh." Includes neat functional diagram comparing FM radio and telephony. 3:48:31 PM
Wireless Freedom! - Radiophony
: "Welcome to Radiophony, innovative audio solutions in communications for ordinary people. Our aim is to promote ways to make the Internet accessible for everyone. We have recently helped set up a community audio center in a village in Andhra Pradesh." 3:48:00 PM
Monday, November 24, 2003
Dell Closes Overseas Call Centers: "After an onslaught of complaints, direct sales computer king Dell Inc. has stopped routing corporate customers to a technical support call center in Bangalore, India. ..
"Customers weren't satisfied with the level of support they were receiving, so we're moving some calls around to make sure they don't feel that way anymore," Weisblatt said. He would not discuss the nature of the dissatisfaction, but some U.S. customers have complained that Indian support operators are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses. ..
Corporate customers account for about 85 percent of Dell's business, with only 15 percent coming from the consumer market. Consumer callers won't see a change in technical support, Weisblatt said, and Dell has no plans to scale back resources at the Bangalore call center. Worldwide, Dell employs about 44,300 people. About 54 percent are located abroad. ..
Among Dell customers dissatisfied with the company's use of overseas labor is Ronald Kronk, a Presbyterian minister in Rochester, Pa., who has spent the last four months trying to resolve a miscommunication that has resulted in his being billed for two computers. The problem, he says, is that the Dell call center is in India. "They're extremely polite, but I call it sponge listening—they just soak it in and say 'I can understand why you're angry' but nothing happens," Kronk said." 9:28:33 PM
Developing Nations Begin to Embrace Internet Commerce: NYT has a few random notes on developing country developments. Two interesting points:
- Thailand has focussed policy and investments on increasing Internet penetration; it has now reached >50% outside of Bangkok.
- "Everest S.A., a family-run business in San Salvador, sold a 69-kilogram lot (152 pounds) of coffee beans in an Internet auction from one of its five farms for a record price of $14.06 a pound. .. [They] entered the Cup of Excellence competition, which included 335 of the country's roughly 23,000 farms, and in early May received first prize for beans from the family's Kilimanjaro farm. Cup of Excellence then arranged an online auction featuring lots from the competition's finalists.. The auction put her company in direct contact with buyers. In the past, she said, local mills would buy the farms' beans and sell them to distributors. "We've now taken the middleman out, which is huge," she said. .. Ms. Batlle said she had maintained a relationship with the Norwegian coffee distributor that bought her beans as well as a Japanese distributor that bid $3.20 a pound for coffee from another of the family's farms in a July auction. That change, she said, will help the farm lift average prices above the 30 cents a pound it received last year." They now pay their laborers 4 cents instead of 3 cents per picked pound.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Sri Lanka: As Peace Falters, Activists Turn to ICT to Build Bridges: "In December 2002, the Sri Lankan government's Peace Secretariat invited the Colombo office of the AED [USAID contractor for Education and Development] -- one of the coordinators of the peace process -- to set up a data-sharing software to network their office staff. While an AED team including Hannes, who is a consultant to them, was working on the project, the hit upon the idea of creating a similar, though infinitely more sophisticated software, for the entire peace process.
In April this year, just as the team was discussing the concept with officials of the Peace Secretariat, local NGOs and media groups involved in the peace process, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels suspended talks. Recalls Hannes, "At that moment we realized we should not wait any longer. Although there were emissaries conveying messages from the government to the LTTE and vice versa even after the suspension, the impact of the communication breakdown between the two parties was apparent." In the aftermath, a clutch of parties - including peace promoters attached to the premier local NGO - Center for Policy Alternatives, Young Asia Television and the Peace Secretariat joined the AED team to conceive and execute the project. ..
The pilot project which was initiated on September 1 this year, is funded by Groove Networks which is co-owned by Information Technology giants Microsoft and Intel, the Appeal for Nobel Peace Laureate Foundation, AED, and USAID. " I believe the software is based on Groove. 4:23:59 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2003
ExpLAN Computers Ltd - Solo computer project: "The Solo is an ultra-low power, transportable computer designed to operate from a number of different power sources including solar panels and lead-acid vehicle batteries. Its ultra-low-power design enables it to be used indefinitely away from sources of mains electricity. Solo is a transportable rather than a portable computer. The entire device can be solid state, having no disc drives or moving parts. .. It uses a TFT Liquid Crystal Display, which may optionally be touch sensitive, removing the need for a separate keyboard and mouse. It may be supplied in a variety of configurations and screen sizes depending on the location of the manufacturer and their intended market.
The Solo is designed to be assembled and supported by manufacturing companies based within Third World countries thereby offering employment within a high-technology industry without moving to an advanced westernised city. ExpLAN Computers Ltd is the coordinator of this project and is working with potential manufacturers, investors and government representatives who will license the rights to produce this innovative computer in their own country. " Pilots in use in Nigeria. 10:53:28 AM
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
: The story of how volunteers from four continents assembled donated equipment to combine VSAT, WiFi and VOIP in the high Himalaya. Once again, Dave Hughes was involved! The popular press (CNN, NYT) carried articles about the Everest Base Camp cyber-cafe, but this longer article
talks about the intention of the project to reverse brain drain and raise educational opportunities. Great photo gallery
also online. 3:33:04 PM
Saturday, November 01, 2003
: Review of ICT development in universities and local software development in Cebu, Philippines (now second to Manila in ICT activity). 9:52:41 AM