I would like to throw in my 20 ounces of salt ... and support Pam
McLean.

Stories from my life:

When changing the German National Research Center for Computing in 1985
for the Engineering University of Nicaragua I felt like I was
transported to the moon - dark side. Whereas in Germany I had already
access to uunet and email, a simple letter exchange from Nicaragua back
to Germany required 3-6 weeks.

Therefore I was extremely happy when I succeded in 1988 to connect by
long distance phone calls (Nicaragua--Vermont) 3 times a day Nicaragua
as Blue Internet Node (.ni) to UUNET...Suddenly affordable turn around
time was 48 hours -instead of 3 weeks- and more over the usenet
Newsgroups provided an excellent mechanism for getting help from
technical communities and their volunteers. (all by phone-calls and
compressed email transfer).

In 1994 we went online as a country (!!) sharing with Costa Rica a 64K
link (!) to the IX in Miami. Again a substantial change as from there on
we had not to pay for connection time -as in the phone-times- but rather
the limit of "what is transferable" was defined by "mean time between
failure" ie. it was possible to send everything (or to get everything)
if only the transmision-time did not exceed a couple of hours. We even
had software to schedule up/down-loads to low-traffic hours during the
night. (In that respect: there are hundreds of proven solutions still
around from those times where Usenet was a Dial-Up connected Network,
yet covering the whole globe with already hundreds of thousands of users
and hundreds of nodes. Many of those are still shipped as unknown parts
of FreeBSD or Linux with BSD compatible solutions, such that there is no
need to re-invent the wheel. These include Batched Mail-transfer not the
extremely resource intensive SMTP peer-to-peer email. Scheduled
transfers, the whole usenet-news mechanism with decentralized
multi-origin feeds yet locally made consistent etc. etc. etc.)

Obviously today  with a Cablemodem at my homeoffice -still in Nicaragua-
and effective 8-9 KB/s it's nice to chat with my son using WEB-cam (He
is on a 7 month visit to Germany). Likewise downloading 20 MB in minutes
facilitates ... but it's only a gradual change compared with the jumps
before.

Concluding Remarks: If WiFi and other Broadband Technologies cut
connection costs substantially, they may be extremely useful. However I
suspect -except true Broadband online comunication- that in 99% of the
cases a mix between distributing bulk information using DVD/RW as media
and combining it with a low-bandwidth connection will solve the problem.
(As an example: communication of medical information from remote places
can be split into burning lots of Info onto an DVD/RW and have it
shipped by what ever means are available combined with text-chat with
the counseling central hospital once the DVD arrived there. Assume you
get 3.6 GB of information this way in 12 hours to the hospital, it would
need almost 9 hours to send the same content through a 1 Megabit/second
direct connection).

Likewise 99% of eLearning-materials can be shipped as DVD/RW -as it does
not change day by day- and then locally combined with either
character-email or character-chat.

Hence: if the alternative is to connect many (and through-out the
country) by low-bandwidth or a few with megabyte links, go for the
first. The latter will come -almost by itself- as technology costs fall
and demand increases.


Yours

Cornelio





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