Sudhakar Chandra wrote: > This brings to mind something that the satellite radio outfit WorldSpace > is doing. The idea is brilliant, in my opinion. You basically buy this > satellite radio (approx. $70-100 depending on model). You also buy a > computer card to interface with the radio. For a fee (that includes the > card free) of approx. $40, you get unmetered limited internet access. > The access is limited in the sense that you are restricted to a few > WorldSpace "approved" websites. This would work great if WorldSpace > expanded the list of approved sites to include those like Yahoo mail and > Hotmail. Unfortunately, they don't. For most people, getting cheap > access to a web-based email system like Yahoo mail is a good start.
I have greatly appreciated this thread of the conversation and the insight that so many of you have given me. I would like to respond to the mention of WorldSpace technology and to the benefits of being able to provide some level of information to those who are not soon to receive the benefits of WiFi, VSAT or new emerging technologies because of either high cost or government regulation. I work at an organization called First Voice International <www.firstvoiceint.org>, a small NGO based in Washington, DC, which was given 5% of the WorldSpace satellite network that covers the entire continent of Africa and much of Asia and the Pacific. This satellite network is able to broadcast digital radio and data to small hand held receivers that cost between $70-$150. At First Voice International, we have used this 5% capacity to develop a 24-hour audio service called the Africa Learning Channel, which deals with pan-African issues such as HIV/AIDS, poverty alleviation, youth leadership, gender issues, food security and others. First Voice also has a data service that allows one to connect their digital radio to a PC or laptop using a $90 adapter anywhere under the footprint to download content at 64kbps. First Voice then partners with NGOs, CBOs, government agencies and community radio stations who can use this equipment and content to impact the maximum number of people through organized listening groups, informing intermediary service providers or through rebroadcast on one of the 194 partner community radio stations in Africa. This is not a two-way system and one cannot send emails, but what First Voice has done is to partner with organizations that have relevant web-based content that they currently cannot get to remote users because of lack of or the high cost of connectivity. One example of how this system has had actual impact on the ground throughout Africa is the RANET Project. This project, honored at the WSSD last year, is an international collaboration funded by USAID-OFDA and is partnering with US NOAA and African Meteorological Agencies continent wide and is now expanding into Asia and the Pacific. The RANET Project was designed to make weather, climate, and related environmental information more accessible to remote and resource poor populations. Initially, this was attempted through the Internet, but it soon became clear that sending digital images, animation and other memory intensive files simply was not possible even to capital city offices, not to mention more remote extension workers. Now through a partnership with First Voice International the RANET Project is now sending all of its content on a reliable, low-cost dedicated line to partners in 35 African countries in the capital cities, secondary towns and rural areas. Additionally, every site that has the equipment also receives the content from all of First Voice's other projects including medical journals articles, agricultural best practice information, news, community radio support materials and much more. I completely agree that there always needs to be a feedback loop built into any project. What we are currently doing is using a hub and spokes model where one site has a connection to the Internet (usually dial-up) and can email feedback, but this has generally been very expensive and unreliable. Where this is not available, First Voice is also using telephone, snail mail or face-to-face communications as appropriate. However, we are always looking for a low-cost low-bandwidth connection primarily for email use that can be used in remote areas throughout Africa and Asia and will not require excessive government licensing. If anyone has any suggestions of these technologies I would greatly appreciate it. Aaron Sundsmo -- Aaron Sundsmo Director International Programs First Voice International (formerly WorldSpace Foundation) Tel: 202-861-2261 Fax: 202-861-6407 ------------ 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