[GKD] Low-Cost Computers for the Developing World?

2003-10-01 Thread Sudhakar Chandra
http://h2o.law.harvard.edu/viewRotisserie.do?rotisserieId=285

Interesting question being posed by the author: Should the developing
world fund research to build a low cost (read around $100) computer or
invest in building IT/education upon the platform of a device such as
internet-capable mobiles.

Thaths
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Re: [GKD] RFI: Pico Hydro Power and ICT Deployments

2003-10-15 Thread Sudhakar Chandra
On 10/13/03 03:01, Venkatesh (Venky) Hariharan wrote:

 Has anyone on this list come across a deployment of ICT specifically
 meant for powering computers in rural areas? I would be interested in
 hearing about this.

You can check Jhai Foundation's Remote IT Village Project at:

http://www.jhai.org/jhai_remoteIT.html

for information regarding a solid-state, low-wattage computer that
can be powered by a foot-crank, a high-bandwidth wireless network, and
support for village small businesses.


--
Thaths




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Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] Bringing Connectivity to Under-Served Communities

2003-10-31 Thread Sudhakar Chandra
Dear GKD Members,

I got back from Kenya after serving there as a VSO [1] volunteer for a
year. I was teaching IT in a womens college in a rural place called
Tala. I also trained the staff on the more advanced subjects of the
curriculum.

First, let me talk about the state of connectivity in the country.

Connectivity in Kenya is pretty decent in the cities (Nairobi, Mombasa,
Kisumu and Nakuru). Literacy in the country is pretty high.  Many of
the younger people in the 15-35 age group are becoming increasingly
netsavvy in the cities. They browse the web in one of the numerous
internet browsing centres and have a hotmail or yahoo mail account.
Prices are competitive and range in the cities betwen 1 Kenyan Shilling
to 5 Kenyan Shillings per minute (1 US$ =~ 70 KSh).

ISPs charge somewhere in the range of 8000 KSh / year for unlimited
activity.  On top of this, dial-up users must pay applicable per-minute
telcom charges.

Even though there are many ISPs in the country and competition between
them is fierce, there are two problems:

1. All traffic has to flow in and out of the country through the Kenya
Telecom monopoly owned JamboNet [2].  This creates a single point of
failure and a bottleneck.

2. Only the bigger cities have local access / dial-up numbers.  If
someone is in not in one of these cities, they have to make a long
distance / trunk call.  The telcome per-minute charges on these vary
depending on how far from a POP the user is.

WAP is available on one (KenCell) of the two mobile phone providers.
But, I have not seen it being used in the circles I moved in.

There is a US AID funded effort to connect colleges and universities
[3].

Now, let me answer the specific questions

 1. What activities are endeavoring to bring connectivity to
 under-served communities?

I am not sure what other organized activities are being carried out in
the country.  I am aware of two - One that I worked on and another of
similar scope [4].  In my case, we got a subsidized 64k VSAT connection
through UUNet.  In addition to this connection being used by the
students of the college, we also created a internet browsing center on
campus for people from the community to use at a nominal fee.  This
enables the college to raise at least part of the cost of the internet
connection.  We also have a plan to set up a local wireless network to
share the bandwidth with the surrounding community.  There are many
formal and vocational schools in the surrounding community that have
expressed interest in this service.

 2. What are the goals of these efforts? To what extent are the goals 
 attained?

The goal of this effort was to provide access to the relatively
marginalized community of Tala.  There is no connectivity in a
50-kilometer radius around this community.  Part of the goal is income
generation for the college as well as people using the wireless network.

The lack of wireless networking equipment in Kenya hindered the
achievement of the wireless network.  At the moment I am working with
another volunteer who is going to be going to Kenya in 2004.  I intend
to procude the equipment in the US and send it through the volunteer.

 3. Who is being served by these connectivity efforts? Are the benefits
 widely distributed? Do some groups win and some lose in these
 connectivity efforts?

I believe that the effort benefits the community widely.  The students
get connectivity, the community piggy backs on the connection at a
nominal fee.  It, in fact, spurs business because a privately run
cybercafe business can make quite a bit of money by using the wireless
network bandwidth to provide internet access at a fee.

 4. How do connectivity efforts seek to ensure that all groups benefit?

We involved the local town council, schools, parish and businesses early
in our efforts.

 5. What are the costs and constraints these connectivity efforts face?

A VSAT connection is prohibively expensive.  Such projects can't work
till it reaches a critical mass of people willing to work together and
share costs in getting connected.

Thaths

[1] http://www.vso.org.uk/
[2] http://www.telkom.co.ke/jambonetcontent1.htm
[3] http://www.kenet.org/
[4] Chinni Tu
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Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] Bringing Connectivity to Under-Served Communities

2003-11-06 Thread Sudhakar Chandra
Hello Robert and others,

On 11/05/03 09:14, Robert Miller wrote:
 With regard to Ahmed's note and the great work he is doing by bringing
 Internet literacy to the students in his university in Nigeria, what if
 you could connect one Campus Content server to that Internet connection
 and locally store many times the content in the US Library of Congress?
 What if this provided simultaneous access for several hundred users on
 campus?

That is a great idea. When I connected a small college in Kenya to the
internet via a 64K VSAT connection, I installed a cacheing transparent
proxy server. The first time someone downloaded something, the content
would be fetched from the server and stored in the proxy server. For
all subsequent downloads, the content would be sent to the local
requestor's browser from the cache and not from the server. This vastly
improved performance and download speeds. Another advantage of using
proxy servers is that the administrator can set up access lists and
access times. So, for example, an administrator can configure the proxy
such that when a class is in progress, the students would only be able
to access the prescribed materials and nothing else.

A week after I connected my college, I discovered that the network usage
was inordinately high. Looking at the logs I saw too many connections
going to Brazil! It was a worm that had infected the lab computers. The
network usage was taking up precious bandwidth from legitimate packets.
I wrote a two line rule in the proxy server to drop all requests going
to the Brazilian site and the network utilization dropped dramatically.

Thaths
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Slacker At Largehttp://openscroll.org/
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Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] Bringing Connectivity to Under-Served Communities

2003-11-14 Thread Sudhakar Chandra
On 11/10/03 18:43, Guido Sohne wrote:
 This is very interesting to me but raises some questions related to
 practical use and implementation. It basically seems that 'offline'
 content is being maintained in a somewhat current state by periodically
 syncing with upstream information. You mention satellite broadcasts,
 which imply that the information stream is one way. This makes sense to
 me, because if it was two way, why does one need to mirror content
 locally, except to save bandwidth (still worth doing!)

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.

Thaths
-- 
Slacker At Largehttp://openscroll.org/
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[GKD] Software Licence Fees vs. GDP Per Capita

2003-12-08 Thread Sudhakar Chandra
I came across this interesting piece by a friend of mine:

http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_12/ghosh/index.html

Abstract:

There is a strong case for free software (also known as open source or
libre software) being deployed widely in developing countries. As argued
in this note, the open source development community provides an
environment of intensive interactive skills development at little
explicit cost, which is particularly useful for local development of
skills, especially in economically disadvantaged regions. Further, this
note argues that the controversy over total costs of ownership (TCO) of
free vs. proprietary software is not applicable to developing countries
and other regions with low labour costs, where the TCO advantage lies
with open source, and the share of licence fees in TCO is much higher
than in high labour cost countries. The note concludes with a table
comparing license fees for proprietary software against GDP per capita
for 176 countries.

Thaths
-- 
Slacker At Largehttp://openscroll.org/
Key fingerprint = 8A 84 2E 67 10 9A 64 03  24 38 B6 AB 1B 6E 8C E4




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Re: [GKD] Update on Cisco LDC Initiative in Uganda

2004-03-29 Thread Sudhakar Chandra
Tariq Mohammed wrote:

 A little over a year ago, I arrived in Uganda as United Nations
 Volunteer (UNV). The purpose of this message is to update ICT4D
 practitioners about the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Initiative, a
 private-public partnership between Cisco Systems, UNDP, UNV, ITU and
 USAID.

snip

 Here are the highlights from 2003-2004:
 
 *   The CNAP in Uganda has grown from 3 Academies in 2003 to 17 in
 2004.
 *   Uganda became the first Least Developed Country to offer the Cisco
 Certified Network Professional (CCNP) curriculum.
 *   Launched 3 Sponsored Curriculum courses - IT Essentials, 
 Fundamentals of Voice and Data Cabling and Fundamentals of UNIX - by  
 Hewlett Packard, Panduit and Sun Microsystems.
 *   Established a Workforce Development Program by building 10 
 private-public partnerships.
 *   Received 5 awards during the 2003 Africa Academy Forum held in 
 Dakar, Senegal.
 *   Success stories of 2 female students.


Dear Tariq,

Thanks for sharing your success with us. I was in neighbouring Kenya
working in a rural women's college which was under the Jomo Kenyatta
University-based Cisco Regional Academy. The college where I volunteered
(through VSO) was offering CCNA courses and was planning to expand into
other Sponsored curriculum such as the ones that you mention.

I must confess that I was very ambivalent about the actual value of a
CCNA/CCNE/CCNP in an LDC.

1. In my estimation, there is only a little demand for network and
system administrators in a country like Kenya (and I presume Uganda as
well). Should we be churning out hundreds of CCNAs every year when there
are not nearly enough jobs to take them in?

2. Is the CCNx program a revenue stream for Cisco? I had to battle this
question constantly during my work.

3. Do we need to be teaching impoverished people about network
administration when we could teach them much more useful things like how
to use a computer to help them manage their resources well. In other
words, teach them computer usage as a tool rather than computer usage as
an end in itself.

In my opinion, Cisco is much better off investing all the money that it
is currently spending subsidizing the CCNx programs on primary and
secondary computer education.

Thanks.

S.




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