John,

Voice connections are still absent in far too many parts of rural Africa
- and other LDCs. Fola Odufuwa's email hits the nail on the head -
market liberalization, open investment climate, good regulation (that
supports universal access).

On a related note, while GSM may not currently be as Internet compatible
as we might wish, the very existence of TOWERS and backhaul from towers
provides the opportunity to use GSM towers for Wi-Fi and other non-voice
applications, provided the local market has a willingness and ability to
pay for such services. Incentives or mandates for tower sharing may
also be a vehicle to increase competitive telecom service in underserved
markets.

Besides wireless providers, other tower sharing opportunities exist with
public utilities, police and emergency services, radio and TV stations,
etc. In the US and Canada, thousands of untapped AM, FM, TV and public
utility towers are available for wireless coverage - often in rural
areas where wireless capacity and coverage are most needed for Wi-Fi and
cellular.

Even in North America, recognition of the need for progressive
regulation on tower sharing, and sharing of other tall structures, and
other geographic elevation points, is only just emerging. Much of the
interest in tower sharing is coming from desires for improve RURAL
telecommunication service.

In the US, some states and municipalities, are creating incentives for
tower sharing among competing operators. Incentives include expedited
consideration and approvals (zoning, construction and public safety
standards) by local governments for towers that will accommodate
multiple users, relaxation of environmental regulations when towers are
shared (reduced impacts on migratory birds, reduced visual impacts,
etc.). In Connecticut, the state can require tower sharing, and deny an
application for a tower if the proponent does not cooperate - potential
users of someone else's tower have the right to request reasonable use
of an existing tower, and the state can enforce tower sharing.

See
<http://www.ic.gc.ca/cmb/welcomeic.nsf/261ce500dfcd7259852564820068dc6d/8525
6a220056c2a485256cf700561c10!OpenDocument> for the example of Canada's
national antenna tower policy review which focuses attention on tower
sharing. In the US, the FCC is now maintaining a national database on
tower locations to assist with tower sharing.


Don Richardson, PhD.
Director
TeleCommons Development Group
Stantec Consulting
361 Southgate Drive
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 3M5
Canada
Tel: 519-836-6050; Fax: 519-836-2493
Email: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Web: www.telecommons.com or www.stantec.com


John Lawrence <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> Since much of the Internet technology (laptops, telecentres etc) seems
> to be landline based, yet it is cellular telephony that is flourishing
> in many of the less developed countries, is there a 'disconnect' here
> that may be inhibiting the spread of the Internet to rural areas?...I
> just came back from Yemen where cellphones predominate, and coverage has
> been obtained over most of the country... so voice connections are now
> relatively normal even to remote rural districts...but Internet of
> course (notwithstanding the Arabic language issue) is largely confined
> just to cities...




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