Concerning Al Hammond's remarks below, we all know that GSM cellular
networks and prepaid cards have resulted in affordable voice
communications for communities without adequate wired services. It is
true these networks can also be used for low-speed data transmission. I
have used existing cellular networks in Uganda to transmit HIV/AIDS
survey data within the country. The total cost of the additional
hardware and software required is perhaps less than USD $300.

Gordon M. Cressman
Director, ICT Programs, International Development Group
RTI International

Al Hammond <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> I think William Lester and Fola Odufuwa are pointing out something
> important--the potential of cellular networks to provide data
> connectivity inexpensively, if imperfectly. As converged devices
> proliferate and newer network technologies spread to developing
> countries, these problems will ease--and in the meantime, the installed
> user base is more than twice that of the Internet and growing more
> rapidly. Phones already have the potential to provide secure ID
> (combining voice and face recognition at the server level), and can
> serve as powerful transaction platforms (see the current
> micro-entrepreneur reseller activity with Smart Buddy in the
> Phillipines.) Whether WiFi-like or cellular solutions are most feasible
> may depend as much on the regulatory environment (what's legal) and on
> the openness to innovation in cellular providers.

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