Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Ken Novak's Weblog
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
UN CONFERENCE ON WIRELESS INTERNET INITIATIVES
: "The 'Wireless Internet for Underserved Populations and Local Communities' programme had been designed to achieve one of the leading development goals of our time -- universal connectivity. The initiative involves all key stakeholders, from government and civil society to the private sector and field practitioners. Among global partners participating in the programme, are IBM, Intel, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, the European Commission, the World Bank and regional and local professional organizations. Speakers emphasized that wireless Internet had the potential to bridge the digital divide by providing low-cost broadband Internet connectivity to underserved areas and communities" 3:44:30 PM
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Indian Lake Unwired
: Dal lake in Srinagar, Kashmir, now has WiFi service available for the houseboats. 9:32:11 PM
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Cuba restricts Internet to those with hard currency
: 2004/01/30 "The Cuban government plans to prohibit access to Internet from telephones paid for in local currency, a move seen as directed in part against the Church. Since January 14, access to Internet from phones is only allowed for lines paid for in dollars. Generally, only businesses and foreigners can pay for such lines." 5:28:28 PM
Key stats on development
: ' "Madness is running over our planet" [said] World Bank President James Wolfensohn addressing students at Stanford University.. World development help is running at about $56 billion a year, he said, while military expenditures are almost 20 times higher at more than $900 billion. Subsidies and tariff protections for world agriculture, including large commercial interests, reach about $350 billion a year. "This is a huge frustration. We have to find a way to focus on poverty and development ... but the big issue is indifference. People don't care. Money is not flowing to where it is needed," Wolfensohn told the students. ' 4:58:04 PM
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Combining Renewable Energy With Information And Communication Technologies: a New Solution to Rural Poverty And Global Competitiveness: Nice to see a UN panel endorsing the concept: "Combining the use of renewable energy, such as solar power, with wireless technologies and energy efficient computers should be a key strategy for developing nations in addressing the rural development crisis and in improving global competitiveness. This was the central conclusion of the Task Force for ICT Applications of Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development (IRESD), initiated two years ago in Paris, where the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Technology Industry and Economics is headquartered.
The Task Force found a number of successful renewable energy and ICT projects in rural areas around the world, but points out that a variety of issues still need to be addressed in order for these examples to become more generally adopted. In particular, the group says that governments need to create incentives for using renewable energies, reduce the regulatory barriers for private networks to obtain connectivity, such as through tax incentives, and sanction the use of license-free radio spectrum. ..
Members of the Task Force [include] energy, ICT and development experts and include representatives from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Switzerland; Winrock International, USA; Massachussettes Institute of Technology (MIT), USA; Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment (KITE), Ghana; United Nations Industrial Development Organization; an independent consultant Mark A. Foster (MAFA), USA; and Mike Jensen, South Africa." 10:09:34 PM
Friday, March 19, 2004
Microsoft goes even more global
: "The latest versions of the company's dominant Windows computer operating system and popular Office software will soon be available in languages ranging from Ethiopia's Amharic to Inuktitut of the Arctic's Inuit, under a project between Microsoft and various local governments and universities. The Local Language Program has already resulted in a Hindi version of Microsoft's software, and there are plans to make Windows and Office available in a total of nine languages spoken in India by the end of the year. The software maker hopes the program will soon double the roster of languages available for Microsoft products, from 40 to 80. Hundreds of millions of people speak the languages that will be offered, but it's unclear how many of them have access to computers right now." 2:45:43 AM
WiFi paid hotspots disappoint: Hotspots worldwide generate $80m/yr, in the US $28m -- "what Verizon Wireless generates every 12 hours" with cell phones. Analysts expect that no hotspot provider will make money before the end of 2005. Cometa has built only 230 hotspots and won't say how many of the original 20,000 planned will actually get built.
In Asia, providers are selling access at lower prices. In S Korea, one provider offers unlimted wifi for $13/mo, or only $1/mo additional for home broadband subscribers. They have 360,000 subcribers. Similar Hong Kong providers have 40,000. Last year, 4.7m Asians used a hotspot, compared to 2.7m Americans and 1.7m Europeans. Resistance to $6/hr or $10/rates is high. 2:17:21 AM
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Radio E-mail in West Africa: IRC uses a Codan-based HF radio email network, using Qmail and other open-source packages on salvaged computers. "The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has one of their largest operations in Guinea, providing services and support to a population of up to 200,000 refugees quartered in many camps established throughout the country. I became involved with IRC when my wife accepted the position of Country Director for the program in the summer of 2001. ..
The current result of our own Radio E-mail project is that we are now serving mail to over 50 desktops and 150 staff in four offices throughout Guinea. The entire wide area network is serviced behind a single public IP address, at a total ISP cost of $150(USD) per month. Based mostly on existing hardware, the Radio E-mail project has leaped boundaries and opened dialogs for its users that were previously not possible. Best of all, the system has deployed standard network and internet technologies throughout the organization and throughout Guinea utilizing the freely available, best of breed, borderless open-source technologies." Reference is also made to MAFlink, a Christian missionary networking organization with HF, Satphone, and dialup services. They operate HF email networks in Congo, Mali, Haiti, Ecuador and West Papua. 9:34:15 AM
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Mobiles 'narrow information gap': "The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute says that in developing countries, the proportion of people with access to a phone has grown over the past 10 years by more than 25%. One in five of the world's population had used a mobile phone by 2002, it reports - up from one in 237 in 1992. In 2002, for the first time, the number of mobile phone subscribers (1.15 billion) was greater than the number of fixed-line connections (1.05 billion). The report says phone access in Africa has grown "dramatically" on the back of the growth of mobile phone technology. In 1992, just one in 778 of the world's population had used the internet. By 2002, one in 10 had. " 5:37:56 PM