I am with Media Lab Asia (www.medialabasia.org) and we are exploring the use of 802.11 technology for rural networks. However, we envisage these as small village telcos that will be set up by rural entrepreneurs. Decades of experience with Universal Service Obligation etc makes it clear that the big telcos are not be interested in providing telecommunications to rural markets. I recently met someone from Malaysia who said that his country has around $300 million earmarked for USO but there has been little progress till date. The story in India is also the same.
A better alternative may be to follow the growth of cable networks in India. Most cable networks in India were set up by small local entrepreneurs. Since cable networks were unregulated, they grew at an astonishing rate and soon outnumbered the number of telephone connections in India! It may not be possible to replicate this success in the telco sector which is far more regulated than the cable networks in India but there is a good chance that local entrepreneurs would be far more interested in providing telco services in rural areas than the big telecom companies. This may be a win-win for everyone -- small entrepreneurs, large telecos and national governments -- because these village telcos may most likely operate their services under franchise from a larger teleco, thus providing connectivty to the disconnected, additional revenues to larger telecos and help governments fulfill their USO dreams. Another advantage of this "bottoms-up" approach is that it creates a lot of employment opportunities in rural areas. The example of India's Public Call Offices (PCOs) is another good example that comes to mind. These manned PCOs created a lot of employment in rural areas and brought telecommunications closer to the rural masses. These PCOs are also popular in urban areas and the manner in which these yellow and black signs have sprouted up all over India in the last ten years has been eye opening. I look forward to hearing from other members on this list on this subject. I am particularly interested in hearing if others on this list have tried to apply 802.11 technology for rural connectivity and their experiences so far. Venky www.medialabasia.org ------------ ***GKD is solely supported by EDC, an NGO that is a GKP member*** To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. In the 1st line of the message type: subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at: <http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/>