Digital Development
Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications

Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Thursday, October 28, 2004


AMD Launches Global Strategy with Partners to Provide Internet Connectivity and Computing Power to 50 Percent of World's Population by 2015:  "50x15 is AMD's initiative to enable affordable Internet access and computing capabilities for 50 percent of the world population by the year 2015. With the current global Internet penetration rate at approximately 10 percent, and the global population estimated to reach 7.2 billion people by 2015, there is tremendous potential ..

AMD is announcing the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC), an innovative consumer device that enables affordable, managed Internet connectivity and offers Microsoft Windows-based computing capabilities to help fulfill the communication, education and entertainment needs of people in high-growth markets. ..

In conjunction with the introduction of the PIC, AMD announced customers in various countries around the world, including the TATA Group in India, CRC in Mexico, and Cable and Wireless in the Caribbean. TATA is the first company to embrace and distribute the PIC in its respective region. TATA will market the PIC and offer it initially to consumers in five cities in India. CRC will work with local distributors in Mexico to offer the PIC along with a suite of educational software. Cable and Wireless is deploying the PIC in support of disaster relief efforts throughout the Caribbean. AMD is diligently working with other customers in several regions to make the PIC available to consumers in high growth markets throughout the world. ..

The Personal Internet Communicator is designed to be an easy to use, affordable consumer device that provides managed Internet connectivity and basic computing and Internet capabilities such as a browser, e-mail, productivity tools (word processing and spreadsheet), and the ability to view images, multimedia files and standard format documents. More information and pictures of the new device can be viewed and downloaded at www.amd.com/50x15. .. Other companies playing an integral role in the development and manufacturing of the PIC include Solectron, Seagate, Samsung and Macromedia played an integral role in the development and manufacturing of the PIC. .. The PIC is branded, marketed and sold by local service providers such as telecommunications companies and government-sponsored communications programs. Pricing to the consumer is determined by the service provider, which may offer variety of subscription, microfinancing options and bundling packages at different price points. Microfinancing in the form of payment plans helps consumers avoid large, up-front cash deployments at the point of sale. Suggested system price point is $185.00 with a keyboard, mouse, and preinstalled software; or $249.00 which also includes a monitor. ..

[AMD is] developing an in-country value chain [to ensure] that the technology gets into the hands of those who need it most, and that the business ecosystem develops and spreads within the markets the products ultimately serve. "Technologies developed for mature markets cannot be dropped into new markets and then be expected to succeed," said Shane Rau, Program Manager, IDC... "

From Red Herring: "To run the PIC, AMD chose its Geod chip, which is typically used for making computer kiosks and set-top boxes for broadband connections. The chip uses only one watt of electricity and runs without a fan. The PIC will provide 128 MB of memory and a 10-GB hard drive. The company is eyeing some 205 million households in China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and Russia as future PIC buyers, said Mr. Shine.  .. Knowing that many of the PICs may go into homes lacking a regular power supply, AMD plans to make PICs that can run on batteries, said Mr. Shine. The company is even exploring alternative sources of energy, such as solar power, in designing the future generations of the machine."

  12:46:54 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, October 25, 2004


Linux growing in developing nations:  ""In emerging countries people are using Linux to accelerate development," says Scott Handy, IBM's vice president for worldwide Linux. "[There's a] relatively similar model in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Korea. In those five countries, Linux is growing faster than the IT [information technology] market in general." .. Sergio Amadeu, the head of Brazil's National Information Technology Institute [says that with open source,] "The country goes from being one of mere consumers to one that develops solutions." ..

Since 2001, São Paulo has saved almost $10 million by ditching Microsoft and buying hardware that does not require nearly as much memory or such fast processors as required by systems running Windows. Officials also say they save on maintenance and security because Linux systems are less vulnerable to attacks from hackers and viruses.  .. Amadeu, who aims to transfer 40 percent of the federal government's computers to Linux before the end of 2006, even compared Microsoft to drug traffickers. He says Microsoft's offer to provide Windows software to schools was like that of dealers offering children a first hit for free."

  11:02:16 PM  permalink  

Solar plan for Indian computers:  "Authorities in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have drawn up a pilot project to use solar power to run computers in village schools.  Nearly 80% of houses are estimated to have no power, and many villages suffer frequent disruption in supply because of power cuts or other faults.   Many have to use kerosene lamps for light and most government-run primary schools have no power at all."  There is rural experience with solar for other purposes, such as battery charging and water pumps.  "Last year 109 solar pumps were installed, but the administration now aims to install 400 in 2004. "  9:54:14 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, October 23, 2004


Anywhere Books: "Print-on-demand is a natural application for the developing world. Anywhere Books is a US-based nonprofit dedicated to deploying mobile print on demand solutions for development."  It's been demonstrated in Uganda and seeks further funding to operate there.  D-Lib magazine suggests for-profit applications, and mentions trials in Egypt and India. Wired mentions projects in Ghana and Macedonia.  12:21:20 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, October 22, 2004


Cringely gets it about BPL:  The recent Fcc approval of "broadband over power lines (BPL) is going to totally shake up the Internet industry. .. One thing to remember about electric utilities is that they are very slow and deliberate. They move like glaciers, so it will take awhile for these services to be available at your house. But like glaciers, they are also impossible to stop.

The appeal here to an electric company isn't that $20-30 per month they'll charge for becoming your ISP. What matters to them and what makes this whole thing so important is that it will lead to your electric meter being monitored 24/7. That means utilities can start to offer true dynamic pricing, with electric costs dropping in low demand time periods and dramatically rising with high demand. While that sounds bad, the end result is actually good, since for the most part, profits from electricity sales will be regulated. The real end result is that demand will be better controlled by dynamic pricing, and the utility may just be able to forego building that $2 billion power plant they've been planning and saving for over the past 20 years. Dropping $2 billion to the bottom line has to appeal to any board of directors and, in a tightly regulated environment, will probably lead to overall power rates going DOWN, not up.

So this BPL stuff is mainly about getting smart electric meters and only partly about offering Internet service. But having made the effort to build the network, offer it they will, generally through unregulated subsidiaries."  This is particularly interesting for developing and newly industrializing countries that are still building their grids and can design BPL in at the start.

  10:47:09 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, October 18, 2004


Strong Angel II: Lessons Learned.  Several points of advice from Cmdr Eric Rasmussen.   Also online:  Video emphasizing Groove, and some presentations with excellent notes. "If there was a single core statement that emerged from the week of collaborative integration and post-conflict reconstruction design, it would be “COMMS FIRST”. Whether the communications was language translation, data transmission, voice-over-IP, reference library accessibility, or cultural explanation, the overarching concept of communication proved far more valuable than political, diplomatic, or religious statements. .. Bring the best and most inclusive language, communications and collaboration tools you have, incorporate everyone into your comms sphere daily with a constant expansion of service, teach the locals – especially police, fire, and medical – what they need to know to keep it all running when you leave, and then give them everything when you walk away. "  Great demo of important features:

  • Babylon Chat, a multilingual realtime chat tool within Groove
  • Recording and distribution tool for local emergency radio, allowing monitoring from anywhere on the Internet
  • Jeep-mounted wifi "pony express"
  • VSee (good photos on their site) for video-conferencing, whether p2p, air-to-ground, sea-to-shore (!) or integrated into Groove workspaces
  • Various disaster-specific reporting and coordination tools, some with GIS mapping
  10:56:19 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, October 01, 2004


Open source networking:  Wireless for TV-on-demand, VOIP, and broadband, on a neighborhood scale in Canada, all with iopen-source software.  One PDA acts as thin-client PC, TV remote control, and roaming phone (home, work, mobile).  A community PVR server records and plays essentially everything from wholesale cable sources.  Interesting future vision, to be sold by the Canadian company as a futuristic WISP.  Could be a model for new developing country infrastructure.  9:33:41 AM  permalink  

Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 4:22:49 PM.
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