Dear GKD Members, Last week GKD members provided a number of cases that described how connectivity is being established and used in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Mauritania, Uganda, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Kenya, Panama, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Iraq, Philippines, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and aboriginal communities in Canada. A wide range of challenges have been encountered and several creative solutions have been proposed or are being tested.
A crucial -- yet often unaddressed -- part of the access issue involves bandwidth, namely: How much bandwidth is necessary to deliver the kinds of information that is most needed to rural/remote areas. Some development experts have argued that broadband is essential to have a real impact on development, especially because we need not only delivery of information, but the capacity for interaction. Others contend that, although broadband is preferable, cost considerations preclude the use of broadband in low resource environments. In an era of limited development resources, very low-cost, slow speed, limited through-put communications are more sustainable and provide value to underserved communities. This week we put the issue to GKD members. Given the costs inherent in supplying high-bandwidth solutions to areas lacking in basic infrastructure, what do your experience and analysis suggest regarding the questions below? KEY QUESTIONS: 1. Are high-bandwidth connections necessary, or even important, to making a real impact on development? Or are the costs and problems inherent in establishing such connectivity too high -- and unsustainable -- for underserved areas? 2. Are there cases that demonstrate the value of low-bandwidth (e.g., store-and-forward email, packet radio) solutions to provide critical information access to under-served communities? How successful have they been? 3. Can information distribution centers (e.g., public access telecenters) offer a viable economic solution to a community's information needs, by, in effect, sharing a single high-bandwidth connection among many users, and thus spreading the cost? 4. Are there new protocols that make more efficient use of the bandwidth that is available? For example, what role can the newer wireless technologies (e.g. Wi-Fi, MESH networks) play in bringing sufficient connectivity to underserved communities? Are the costs and maintenance demands of these technologies sustainable? We look forward to hearing about some cases that have addressed these issues, and the insights learned regarding their success/failure. ------------ This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by the dot-ORG USAID Cooperative Agreement, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org provides more information. 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 For the GKD database, with past messages: http://www.GKDknowledge.org