A group of us at Stanford have been following this on-line conversation
intently. Sitting in California bandwidth 'heaven', it's fair to say
that we are learning a lot from contributors for whom connectivity is
not a given.

As the discussion turns to models for scaling it is noteworthy to
observe the connectivity acceleration taking place in urban and
semi-urban centers worldwide, driven by 'more affordable' wireless
communications services, i.e. mobile telephony.  As these user-supported
wireless networks are established, we believe innovative data services
will evolve to take advantage of them -- just as 'modem-powered' e-mail
and Web-browsing creatively re-purposed traditional telephone networks
in the developed world over the past three decades.

With the advent of affordable mobile communications we see an emerging
model for a viable 'lowest common denominator' two-way network, that
will ultimately become available for data traffic globally. Bandwidth
limitations notwithstanding, this network will become a new highway for
innovative data services. Exciting technologies like Wi-Fi will have an
important role at the edge of this network - at a minimum as aggregators
of low bandwidth communications like email, instant messaging, SMS and
VOIP.

Affordable low-bandwidth data communications will be a major theme of
the 2004-5 Digital Vision Fellowship Program at Stanford next year.
Please write if you wish to spend a year at Stanford
<http://reuters.stanford.edu> to address this opportunity.
  

- Stuart Gannes




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