What Al Hammond points out is engaging a large number of NGOs and
individuals in India which is undergoing a telecom revolution of its own
kind.

In less than a decade, India has seen the opening of the telecom market,
met the target for the decades years before that, increasing
tele-density and a host of programs being tried out that in their scope
may measure up to the expectations we may have of any developed market.

What is interesting indeed is that that small village based
organisations are experimenting with various possibilities on their own.
For instance when a small group on healthcare wanted to create a rural
healthcare information system, it thought of using the TDMA cellular
technology to connect to the net and develop a web based information
system that need not depend on infrastructure created exclusively for
the project.

Just a couple of years ago our team was struggling with the network
issues while working on Tarahaat. Today that question has partly been
answered by TDMA based cellular network.

Of course when the infrastrucure is as deficient as it is with the speed
of a decade ago in the industrial world still a dream for 95 percent of
the population, anything that one can lay one's hands on seems simply
fascinating. In any case it allows one to go through the frustrations of
living with something they could easily better and helps give people
voice and a trigger to improve their lot.

However, while in their struggle for survival people will continue
experimenting at the level they do, appropriate policies that start from
the premise of helping them become viable as their primary focus may
collapse time in changing their lot.

satish jha


Al Hammond 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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