Re: [GKD] Should Developed Countries Subsidize the Internet for LDCs?

2005-01-04 Thread Edmond Gaible
Dear Colleagues,

A quick set of numbers about a specific situation with regard to VSAT

As of September 2004, secondary schools in Uganda were able to purchase
new KU-band VSAT terminals for US $2800 from the Ugandan offices of

Monthly connection costs under volume-based pricing (1GB total traffic
per month) is about $230. Recognizing the realities of school funding
cycles, AFSAT bills schools at the beginning of each term, when school
fees are collected.

Roughly 45 rural secondary schools now have VSATs under this program,
which was launched in the spring of 2003. A few of these schools serve
very disadvantaged communities, and have received upfront capital in the
form of grants. Most of the 14 that we've looked at are covering their
recurrent costs via combinations of school fees and community-focused

AFSAT representatives say that their company is approaching the school
market aggressively, and fairly, because they believe that schools are
credit-worthy, in contrast to many cybercafes and other private
operators in rural areas. They also understand, rightly, that as
technology penetrates schools, schools will serve the largest installed
base of computer and Internet users in Uganda's agriculture-based rural

This arrangement is far from perfect. In particular, some schools have
more than 1GB of traffic per month, which results in increased costs for
AFSAT and radical slow-downs in connectivity speeds at those schools.

But the situation is interesting because it's arisen out of market
demand and opportunities, which are being met by a largely responsible
private-sector provider.

In mid-2005, the Uganda Communications Act will expire. Intended, in
part, to shelter Ugandan telecommunications companies during the
emergence of the telecommunications sector country-wide, the Act has
kept potential competitors from entering the VSAT market. One effect of
its expiration MAY be a further lowering of prices.

Bushnet, another private-sector provider, is also offering wireless
connectivity in rural Uganda via -- I think -- microwave hubs. Cost of
each hub is I believe upwards of $6K U.S., but these are intended to
provide service to clusters of communities using 802.11 technologies. As
of my latest information, there are over 30 hubs located in urban and
rural areas.

I'm offering these numbers in part to add to the general storehouse of
information that this discussion has built up. I'm also concerned that
private-sector successes in providing Internet access not be overlooked.

The possibility of a social enterprise providing Internet connectivity
to multiple communities, as Jeff has proposed, is intriguing. To be
successful, however, an enterprise of this sort would need to compete
against private-sector providers. The organization would itself be, in
essence, a private-sector provider, yes?

Best wishes to all for the New Year!

Ed Gaible

ADDENDUM: Has it already been pointed out that from 1995 to 2000 there
was a huge subsidy (of a sort) of first-mile Internet connectivity?
With the ballooning of the US stock market, literally billions of
dollars were invested in vast fiber-optic networks that were laid across
North America and Europe, and in satellite and Internet backbone
companies such as Global Crossing that were operating internationally.
When those companies went belly up, the wealth that drove that
infrastructure expansion vanished. But all the infrastructure remains in
place, subsidized by the investors whose stocks lost value. The
question is (imho) what are the factors that keep that stuff -- huge
webs of fibre and galaxies of satellites that are ready and waiting --
from being used at an affordable price?

On 12/31/04, Jeff Buderer [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:


 The reality of these extremely high ICT costs causes many to think twice
 about the ICT sensation among aid and development gurus and to look
 critically at these programs. I am encouraged by discussions here and
 plan to look more deeply and carefully at the economic logic beyond ICT
 augmented development programs. I think this is particularly important
 because the potential of ICT to transform lives, if properly and
 effectively applied, is extremely high.
 I was wondering what other experiences there are in this group with
 relation to satellite in terms of costs, reliability and how they
 compare with the other forms of Internet connectivity.
 In an off list discussion with Lee Thorn and several others, we have
 begun to explore some of the issues associated with ICT and particularly
 in relation to the high cost of satellite. This led me to do research to
 actually explore the costs.
 One of the concepts that my org OVF is exploring is the idea of
 developing a satellite system that would share the cost of the satellite
 with surrounding communities through a wireless system using similar
 technology as developed by Tim Pozar for the BARWN project

Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] What Are the 'Right' Resources to Foster Professional Development?

2004-06-25 Thread Edmond Gaible
Greetings to all,
As my friend and colleague, Scott Robinson, suggests, our consideration
of the technical means of professional development begs several
questions. Who benefits from professional development? Or, perhaps of
greater importance, in poor and agrarian economies, Who are the

In India, as in Latin America per Scott's example, income polarization
leads to rising economic tides that submerge, rather than lift up, the
poor. The same of course can be said of the United States, and many
other countries. A cursory search for evidence yields many results,

Juan Forero, Latin America is growing impatient with democracy
(Graphs income disparity in 8 LAC countries)

Amy Waldman, Low tech or high tech, jobs are scarce in India's boom
NY Times, May 6, 2004
(Describes job-scarcity for engineers in high-tech Andhra Pradesh)

If we accept this situation, we might best explore the use of accessible
tools to provide professional development for those 'professionals' most
in need. Areas of exploration would (and currently do) focus on locally
available, low-cost, and in many cases mobile devices rather than on
high-bandwidth solutions.

- Jiva Institute's Teledoc project uses mobile telephones running Java
applications and connected to the Internet  to provide electronic
job-aids to rural health workers.

- Voxiva Corporation has developed a cross-platform HIV/AIDS Information
Management System that provides tools for health workers to report new
HIV infections, and track drug, equipment and other supply levels;
monitor ARV resistance and the health of people living with HIV/AIDS,
and access lab results.

- The World Bank Institute's ICT for Education division recently
completed a proof-of-concept project using iPAQ handheld computers
(PDAs) for the collection of Education for All data from primary schools
in the Gambia. The project demonstrated the potential of handheld
devices to reduce costs and increase the accuracy of the data-collection

By expanding our models of professional development to include
just-in-time job aids and decision support, we open ourselves to a
welter of higher-impact, lower-cost solutions: Handheld support for
classroom teachers to guide them through new pedagogies OR to guide them
past lacunae in their own skills and knowledge; Telecenter-based
decision-support for clients of micro-banks or MFIs, helping farmers
determine amortization of loans for irrigation equipment; GPS / GIS
support for local- and micro- water-management and irrigation

And of course, in countries where populations are disproportionately
young, it is critical to support the development of the professionals of
tomorrow. Education systems that stifle high-value, real-world skills,
such as communication, problem-solving, and creativity, and that focus
exclusively on building basic numeracy and literacy, do their students
and their countries a gross disservice. An unnecessary disservice. This
situation must be changed, and it can be changed -- in part  because
schools often provide the greatest access to computer and Internet
access in a given community.

Regards to all,

Ed Gaible

Edmond Gaible, Ph.D.
The Natoma Group | 610 16th Street, ste 506 | Oakland CA 94612
+1.510.444.3800 phone and fax |

On 6/23/04, Scott Robinson [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

 Responding to Gary Garriott's post re why isn't anyone responding at
 the local level?:
 1) the increasing polarization dividing rich and poor in Latin America,
 often the result of a fundamentalist the market will solve the problem
 ideology, has obliged the best and the brightest in villages, small
 towns and periurban slums to migrate to some country in the North.
 Their remittances now provide a social safety net at home, while
 regulatory environments protecting legacy players inhibits applying
 emerging digital tools to lower remittance transfer and transnational
 family communication costs.

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Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] How Much Bandwidth is Necessary?

2003-11-14 Thread Edmond Gaible

I'm happy to hear Stuart Gannes' voice on alternative means of
connectivity. Stuart's Digital Vision program has been instrumental in,
among many other activities, promoting the use of store-and-forward
models as a way to deliver information services in advance of reliable
connectivity. And as many others have said, the answer to the question
How much bandwidth is necessary? is critically dependent on what your
program is trying to accomplish. For closed systems of data exchange --
as opposed to open systems such as browsing the World Wide Web and
accessing documents or media files -- low-cost, low-bandwidth solutions
may be ideal.

Jiva Institute's Teledoc project uses commercial, off-the-shelf
mobile-telephone technologies to reduce costs and enable sustainable,
enterprise-based healthcare to reach villages. Village-based field
representatives exchange data with the central clinic using a mobile
phone to access the Internet via a GPRS network. GPRS is widely
available in India, with higher-bandwidth CDMA networks now being
installed in the south. Custom applications written in Java 2.0
Micro-edition (J2ME) allow the phone to connect directly with a central
database of patient records at the Jiva clinic.

Field representatives are able to add new patients, review patient
treatment histories, and describe symptoms in detail. The telephone
interface has been designed to accommodate the phone's limited screen
'real estate' by providing field representatives with simple codes and
sequential decision-support. At the central clinic, Jiva's expert
Ayurvedic doctors analyze the data, and then prescribe medication and
treatment. Medicines are compounded at a regional office, picked up by
field workers, and delivered to patients in their homes-all for 70
rupees or US $1.50 per consultation.

Access to healthcare in villages is extremely limited, and is one factor
contributing to much higher morbidity rates in India's villages when
compared to cities. Teledoc is currently in pilot tests in the state of
Haryana, where Jiva is based, and is providing traditional,
cost-effective Ayurvedic treatments in villages. Jiva has offered
Ayurvedic care locally and internationally over the Internet (60+
patients per day) since 1995. However, we anticipate bundling other
healthcare services into Teledoc as the project evolves.

The combination of mobile telephones, GPRS, and J2ME results in an
extremely low-cost solution. Network installation and maintenance costs
are borne by the private sector. The ability to exchange data between
villages and the central database combines with a solid business plan
and pricing scheme, and with demonstrated demand in the villages to make
the project highly scalable.

Jiva's innovative, low-cost computing technology has just received the
World Summit Award for eHealth for the World Summit on the Information

Regards to all,

Edmond Gaible   |

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Agreement, and hosted by GKD. provides
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[GKD] RFI: Plans for Foot-Crank Generator (Laos)

2003-03-10 Thread Edmond Gaible
Jhai Foundation is in need of plans for the conversion of bicycles for
electric power generation. We have tried using a bicycle with a simple
roller generator and have found that method unsuitable. We need a design
which include a flywheel and a generator capable of supplying 5 - 10
amperes of direct current at 12 volts. It should be rugged enough to
last 10 years with daily use.

Information about plans, kits, or other resources can be sent to:

Jhai Foundation's Remote IT Village project has as its objectives the
creation of a wireless Local Area Network that will serve the needs of
rural villagers in Laos. Villagers in areas without electricity or
telephony will connect through the network to the Lao telephone system
to make voice phone calls within Laos. They will connect to the Internet
to make Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) calls internationally.
Villagers have requested these capabilities to support sales of rice and
other crops within Laos, and to arrange sales of handwoven textiles
overseas. They will also communicate with expatriate family members.

At the core of Remote IT Village is the Jhai PC. This rugged,
solid-state computer has extremely low power requirements, and will run
a version of Linux localized for the Lao language. The Jhai PC will be
powered by gel batteries charged by foot-crank generator. (The
foot-crank generator has been chosen over solar to ensure adequate power
during the rainy season.)

Jhai Foundation has determined that it will be advantageous to produce
foot-crank generators within Laos.

For more information about the Remote IT Village project, please see:


Many thanks, 

Ed Gaible

Edmond Gaible, Ph.D.

350 Townsend Street, ste 309
San Francisco CA 94107

+1 415 543 6643 / 415 863 6398

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Re: [GKD] Linux Aid Server Project

2002-02-20 Thread Edmond Gaible

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Morrison that context is the key to
understanding any proposed assistance or development -- technologically
based and otherwise. I've in no way suggested that Mr. Grant's proposed
design is suitable for _all_ applications in all contexts, any more than
I would dismiss Mr. Morrison's DOS / laptop-based solution because it
doesn't provide enough functionality for schools or telecenters.

Mr. Grant's design has the potential to provide value for networked
computer installations in low-infrastructure environments. I encourage
him to develop it on that basis and for those contexts -- I suggest as
well that as a first step he work closely with organizations and
individuals in his prospective user base to be sure that he's addressing
their needs in terms of ease-of-use and functionality.

With regard to Linux implementations and free software, again it's a
question of context, as well as capacity, and also a question of future
contexts and capacities. Linux may well not be an effective solution in
all development contexts, or even in many of them, at present. But we
are, I hope, building a future in which infrastructure is enhanced
through sustainable means, and local technical capacities are enhanced
as well.

(And I'm aware of situations in which new, donated desktop computers
have lain in the warehouse for months simply because the manufacturer's
donation didn't include a license for Windows. Why not evaluate
solutions to this problem, including Linux and alternatives such as New
Deal software?)

If I can offer a final suggestion: Mr. Grant has made it clear that he's
interested in developing software that will support socio-economic
development, and that will be freely available. If his initial design
query _isn't_ valuable, perhaps Mr. Morrison or others offer guidance
toward a project that will return greater benefits.


Edmond Gaible

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Re: [GKD] Linux Aid Server Project

2002-02-15 Thread Edmond Gaible


There are several aspects of this discussion that are important:
Although I agree with Dr. Morrison, generally, that simple and durable
systems are best, simplicity and its virtues can been seen from several
perspectives. In addition, new tools are called for to meet new needs
and to make new/appropriate technologies available in otherwise
underserved areas.

On simplicity: Although laptops are durable and feature low power
requirements, they're more expensive and much more difficult to service.
In school computer labs, teachers and students often become adept at
scavenging parts to repair desktop computers. Such activities, although
arising out of need, become one of the benefits of participating in
school computers clubs. Such activities are _much_ more difficult with
laptops. In Zimbabwe, at least through 1998, servicing of a laptop
required that the machine be shipped to South Africa.

On new technologies: Several features of Matthew Grant's proposed server
design have already proven valuable for the Virtual Didactic Lab
education project in Sao Paulo -- and could be of similar value to other
projects that require heavy e-mail / Internet use in regions that are
infrastructure-poor or poorly regulated.

The LabVirt project engages secondary-school students in the design of
physics simulations, which are then built in Java by graduate students
at University of Sao Paulo, and uploaded to a central repository for use
as teaching/learning tools. Schools involved in the project, located in
underserved communities throughout the state of Sao Paulo, generally
have 10-computer labs, with machines on the order of Pentium 1s and 2s.
The project has designed and built a blackbox server, which sits on
one of the school's 10 workstations. This server links the computers in
a LAN, giving them all access to the printer and maximizing the lab's
limited hard-drive space.

Critically, in a project that involves students uploading graphics and
downloading Java applets, the server uses call-scheduling to optimize
all email transactions -- processing these when the lab is unused and
when the city's phone lines have the least traffic. If the phones are
down or the connection is poor, the task is re-scheduled.

(The LabVirt project has completed its second year -- I'm unaware of any
publicly accessible web artifacts.)

One could argue, as well, that _any_ Linux-based proposal for developing
countries should be given serious consideration as part of an effort to
reduce the future costs and constraints of participation in an otherwise
exclusionary networked society. Linux has already become much more user
friendly, with graphical interfaces (not unlike Windows) and simpler
distributions. It continues to run well on older computers (e.g., 486s),
and provides good Internet-browsing capabilities even on those machines.
And integration of Linux into development projects is one way to ensure
that this collaboratively created alternative evolves to better meet the
needs of developing-country users.

In an alternative view of the future, Microsoft is releasing its new
developers' toolkit (C-Sharp) this week, intended to compete with Java
[open-source, free], and to integrate with Microsoft's dot-Net and
Passport services -- all of these are designed to create greater
dependency on Microsoft's proprietary software and Internet services.


Edmond Gaible

350 Townsend Street, ste 312
San Francisco CA 94107
+1.415.543.6643 / fax 863.6398

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