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

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?


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

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. provides
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