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

2003-12-03 Thread S Woodside
On Monday, December 1, 2003, Robert Miller wrote:

 Simon Woodside wrote:

 WorldSpace is a broadcast system. With a WorldSpace system you are 
 only capable of receiving data, not sending it.

 I wish to disagree in that we are currently using WorldSpace very
 effectively as a global multicast solution to refresh all of the Axxess
 servers that Advanced Interactive currently has installed across Africa.
 With a dialup line as a back channel the server maintains contact with
 the global Network Operations Center that remotely manages this entire
 network.

..[snip statements I agree with]...

 let us not discount this technology where a differentiated last mile
 solution can manage its shortcomings and turn 1-way downlink with a
 server managed dialup back channel into a viable way of a sustainable
 affordable connected community.

Robert, your post has raised more questions than it answered. Thus far,
WorldSpace has been billed as a beachhead information system that can be
deployed in areas that have no communications infrastructure. I think
I'm convinced at this point that's a valid development, though not one I
would ever pursue.

It's been assumed so far that once an internet connection is available,
the internet is superior. And yes -- since on the internet, my rural
users can talk back, hold conversations, email their relatives, use VoIP
-- all impossible with WorldSpace.

Now you have described a situation which adds a dialup to the regular
WorldSpace receiver unit. But why would anyone bother with WorldSpace at
all if they have dialup internet access?

We run the risk of applying a technology (WorldSpace) just because we
can in that situation.

simon

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

2003-12-01 Thread S Woodside
My main concern about WorldSpace is that it is billed as a
communication system. Most electronic communication systems are
two-way, they allow conversations. But WorldSpace is one-way. It is, in
fact, a broadcasting system, not a communications system. Just as you
would call TV a broadcast system. WorldSpace users are passive
observers.

I think it is a good broadcast system. It supports data broadcasting,
which is new and has many uses. But if we are talking about ICT,
information and communications technologies, this is an IT, not a CT.
While communications systems involve connections and interaction,
broadcasting involves transmitters and receivers.

Although WorldSpace's own websites are very careful to speak only of
transmission and reception, others make mistakes.

 The WorldSpace satellite network is an innovative communication
technology that enables people to access information even in the
remotest villages where there are no telephone lines or electricity.
  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1608394.stm

The unique, patented technology allows inexpensive connectivity to the
computer directly from the satellite.
   
http://thinkcycle.media.mit.edu/thinkcycle/main/
development_by_design_2002/
publication__innovative_internet_access_to_a_remote_school_in_kenya/
Implementation_of_SchoolWeb_Project_at_Kabarak_High_School.pdf

The internet is very poor at broadcasting. But it's excellent as a
communication medium. As another person recently wrote:

Because the WorldSpace product is a satellite receiver, there's no
back-channel for data upload. As a result, you can't send email, request
additional cached webpages or give feedback on whether a particular
piece of content is useful.
 http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/xdev/22.html

So, in conclusion. WorldSpace is an innovative and obviously useful
information dissemination tool. But, on the other hand, a basic, slow
email system (even with intermediaries) is better at communication.

simon


On Friday, November 28, 2003, David J.A. Sawe wrote:

 Arguably, the initial step towards joining the information society is to
 receive information, and not to transmit blindly. In the same way, a
 newborn's first breath is always to inhale and not to exhale. Especially
 in terms of educating, informing and entertaining, there is much that
 can be achieved through being able to merely receive broadcasts. If this
 were not the case, then the traditional forms of media dissemination
 (ie. radio/TV/print) could never have become as pervasive as they are
 now in our more privileged urban areas.

 So WorldSpace satellite radio receivers bring about inclusivity by
 merely offering a new option for reliably receiving high quality audio
 and data content in locations hitherto excluded from any of the
 traditional media forms. Of course, as with traditional broadcast
 media, other options would need to be looked into on a case-by-case
 basis to contribute anything in return; but at the outset, this
 requirement is not a sine qua non.


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

2003-11-26 Thread S Woodside
WorldSpace is a broadcast system. With a WorldSpace system you are only
capable of receiving data, not sending it. While I think WorldSpace is a
great and wonderful thing, it's very dangerous if people thinking it's a
substitute for the real thing which is an internet connection that
allows two-way communication, email, web access, VoIP, web email,
content creation, content sharing ... none of those are possible with
WorldSpace.

So, if you want to be merely an information consumer ... WorldSpace is
fine. If you want to join the information society, you need something
more.

simon


On Wednesday, November 19, 2003, Robert Miller wrote:

 The WorldSpace connection together with this CampusAxxess last mile
 solution for any school, campus, or village truly narrows the digital
 divide in an affordable and sustainable way. For more info, contact Dr.
 S. Rangarajan, Sr. Vice President of WorldSpace at
 [EMAIL PROTECTED] or me.

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Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] Improving Access Via Mobile Telephony

2003-11-25 Thread S Woodside
The regulatory environment is very poor for Wi-Fi in developing
countries. Please refer to the growing list of countries and their
regulations here:

http://openict.net/projects/openspectrum/

(choose ByCountry)

The reality on the ground is that MOST developing countries do NOT
have the proper regulations to make Wi-Fi possible. They need to issue
Open Spectrum licenses (for free use of the correct spectrum) but have
not done so yet. This situation is taken advantage of by the incumbent
telephone companies who in many cases use the lack of proper regulation
to shut down inexpensive, open, and often free Wi-Fi systems ... because
they see them as competition.

For those of you who may have the ability to influence policy ... more
open spectrum licenses are needed in developing countries ...

simon


On Friday, November 21, 2003, Al Hammond wrote:

 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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Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] What's on the Horizon?

2003-11-19 Thread S Woodside
Time for peering into the crystal ball, I guess. First, three years is
about the outer limit IMO for any kind of computer technology
predictions. I tend to look at trends that are coming in the next year
or two and that's quite challenging enough...

 This week we ask GKD members to consider the distant future in ICT terms
 -- the next 3 years. Connectivity for All. It has a nice ring, but
 success thus far has been limited. Funding is a central issue.

I would say that to the contrary, funding is not a central issue. It is
easily possible to pour money into hare-brained schemes that will never
yield positive results. Whereas, it is far more difficult to determine
what scheme will succeed. Funding is important, but I believe it should
come out of a natural process that begins first with coming up with a
correct scheme.

For example, I have recently read that the East African nations are
devoting hundreds of millions of $ to build an undersea cable. I cannot
say enough that this is an excellent move. However, if I could question
these initiators I would ask - what is your sharing plan? Currently the
West African cable (SAT-3) is very slow to bring benefits because it is
monopolized. The bandwidth is NOT being used. There is in fact either
none or very little competition available, but rather one single
supplier in each country of the bandwidth tap that comes out of this
fat pipe. The single supplier is a monopoly that knows only one rule -
charge high prices. Clearly not the best for the people. What will the
East African cable organization do differently? Perhaps I'm being
pessimistic, but I suspect it has never occurred to them as a problem
worth giving thought to.

So I have an intrinsic distrust of huge funding because I think it's
more difficult to think creatively in a very expensive project.

 Forgo experimentation

Disagree. Technology is unpredictable. Experimentation, lots of
different trials at small scale, is key. Open reporting on successes and
FAILURES is key. Then harvest the results and learn, learn, learn.

 1. What new high impact technologies are on the 3-year horizon? Who
 (exactly) needs to do what (concretely) to make those technologies
 widely available?

Wi-Fi is a big one. Whoever is able to influence government policy needs
to push developing governments to create an Open Spectrum plan to allow
the Wi-Fi growth to happen.

Java-enabled cell phones is another area that I think will explode. J2ME
enabled java phones will be the new PC especially in developing areas
where the following qualities are so valuable: a) portable b) rugged c)
cheap d) low-power

Wireless cellular in general but I don't think anyone here needs to do
anything to make that happen - it's already rolling like a steamroller.

In the developing world, I believe that technologies that can be used by
people who are illiterate - whether is a Simputer type technology, or
internet voice mail :-) will be very popular and important to achieving
development goals.

Broadband is very important. I think it has been given short shrift in
these discussions. The #1 rule of bandwidth is you NEVER have enough
bandwidth. Businesses can be built purely on the basis of HAVING
broadband. We are talking about voice applications over the internet -
this requires broadband. E-learning over the internet - need broadband
for that. Downloading the latest version of Linux - broadband. We may
realize that we sometimes have to do without it, but the goal should
always be to get it.

As others have pointed out already, you don't need to have international
broadband to see benefits. Even local broadband, through, say, an IXP
can give very substantial gains in building local content networks. And
voice connections between local villages ... will still save people a
lot of time walking on poor-quality roads, paying for the post, etc.

 3. Where should we focus our efforts during the coming 3 years? On ICT
 policy? Creating ICT projects with revenue-generation models that are
 quickly self-supporting? Demonstrating the value of ICT to developing
 country communities?

Yes. ;-) (that's an engineer's answer)

simon





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

2003-11-13 Thread S Woodside
On Wednesday, November 12, 2003, Pam McLean wrote:

 Ben Parker asked about experiences on solar powered VSAT
 
 I don't have time to give details now but can't let the question go by
 without brief reference to the Solo. It is designed for rural Africa. I
 saw the second generation prototype during field trials in Oke-Ogun. I
 undertand that some pre-production versions are now under assembly. Not
 being a techie I don't know if there is any difference between VSAT
 and the satelite connection that Solo was making use of then.

Pam, thanks for the insight. Satellite phones can definitely be used for
internet connections. For many examples try this google search:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22satellite+phone%22+laptop

There's no necessity to use a Solo computer for this ... all of the
satellite phones that provide data will work with any laptop.

There's definitely a difference between VSAT and satellite phone. A VSAT
link is like a leased line ... it's a permanent connection to the
internet that you lease by the month. For the period of the lease you
may use it as often as you like, you can saturate the connection 100% of
the time if you like, the price is fixed at a monthly rate.

With satellite phone you're paying ... buy the minute. Probably a couple
of dollars a minute. So, if your use is sporadic and for very short
periods at a time, it may be cheaper than VSAT. That said, VSAT links
are usually in the range of $100-$300 a month depending on where you
are, that's for the slowest connections of VSAT which are still just as
fast as the fastest satellite phone. Satellite phones max out at 144kbps
but are more typically 9.6kbps, or 56kbps.

 As a potential purchaser I know I won't get hold of one until someone in
 Africa sets up a small, locally financed  company, to do small scale
 assembly (about 100 units a month). The ethos behind Solo development is
 not just to make the *end product* available in rural Africa, but to
 *benefit local economies* and to *enable technology transfer through
 local assembly*. It is an imaginative combination of leading edge
 technology and cottage industry scale assembly! Hurdles to be overcome
 are things like problems relating to getting components through customs,
 and getting a critical mass of initial orders, to give a small company
 the confidence to go forward. That's why I keep plugging the Solo  - I
 want one, and I want the project I support in Oke-Ogun to be able to get
 them - so I need other people to want them too.

I hope you succeed, but I have to say I'm doubtful that the Solo
computer will ultimately prove to be cheaper or better than a laptop.
Keeping in mind that a local economy can develop around laptops too ...
maybe not building but selling, servicing. And most of the world's
laptops are built in just a few factories in Taiwan anyway ;-)

simon


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

2003-11-12 Thread S Woodside
On Monday, November 10, 2003, Ben Parker wrote:

 The other major challenge we face in two remote telecentres
 UNICEF supports in southern Sudan (at least two days from the nearest
 telephone) is the generators. These need lots of fuel and oil and are
 prone to breakdown. Regular desktops are much too greedy for solar 
 power as far as I understand, but I would be interested if anyone can 
 share experiences on solar-powered VSAT?

How much power does a VSAT use? Seems like it must be a lot. Desktops
are definitely not a good idea with solar, but laptops would do fine
with a solar power system, since they generally use less than 10 Watts.
Whereas a desktop PC with a monitor draws maybe 100 Watts.

Instead of using VSAT for backhaul, consider using Wi-Fi for backhaul
connection to the internet. WiFi equipment has very light power
requirements -- solar is defintely used to power Wi-Fi installations in
remote locations.

simon


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

2003-11-11 Thread S Woodside
On Friday, November 7, 2003, at 08:26  AM, Cornelio Hopmann wrote:

 Hence: if the alternative is to connect many (and through-out the
 country) by low-bandwidth or a few with megabyte links, go for the
 first. The latter will come -almost by itself- as technology costs fall
 and demand increases.


I would say rather that the different technologies that are available
are so different and so randomly effective it's impossible to say that
either low-bandwidth or high-bandwidth is better. Pragmatically, a more
scatter-shot approach would have more likelihood of succeeding. Launch
many projects with many technologies. Some will work, some won't. Learn
from the failures and repeat the successes. Every time a new technology
comes along give it a chance.

Not only that, but the high cost of a PC or a laptop needs to be
considered. A PC is expensive, whether it's connected to high-bandwidth
or low. So a substantial sum of the total ICT investment isn't going to
change no matter what the bandwidth plan might be.

simon






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Re: [GKD] New Book Highlights Priorities for WSIS

2003-10-01 Thread S Woodside
Nice to see this list is back after the hiatus. I have heard that the
Civil Society groups have been having trouble at the WSIS prepcoms. I do
not see how a world information SOCIETY can be discussed without a full
and adequate treatment of the concerns of the Civil Society
representatives.

simon


On Monday, September 29, 2003, at 09:22 AM, Karen Higgs wrote:

 At the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS),
 to be held in Geneva in December, governments will agree on a
 declaration and action plan that could enhance or hinder access to ICTs
 for the vast majority of the world's population. The Association for
 Progressive Communications (APC) and the CRIS Campaign have been
 following the WSIS process and their publication - Involving Civil
 Society in ICT Policy: the World Summit on the Information Society -
 highlights some of the principal issues at stake.


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Re: [GKD] The Phones Keep Ringing in World's Poorest Country

2003-07-31 Thread S Woodside
Actually I think that Somalia's telecomm grew BECAUSE there is no
national operator. You also see this ironic situation in DRC, where
there are tremendous advances in telecomms despite a totally chaotic
situation. The truth is the telecomm in this era needs competition to
force down prices. I am not generally an advocate of privatization, but
competition in telecomm is essential, and it's got to happen in Africa
quickly.

But, this article then immediately confuses a national operator with a
national regulator, they are completely different. A national regulator
is essential, this is a government department that does not sell
service, they just design policy and regulations. A national operator is
the same thing as a national telecomm company.

One is essential to have (national regulator) the other is essential to
get rid of (national operator).

simon


On Tuesday, July 29, 2003, at 04:24 PM, Frederick Noronha (FN) wrote:

 Notably, Somalias telecommunications sector grew despite the fact that
 it does not have its own national telecommunications operator, as
 companies merely filled in the void left by the government. But that is
 not a model that wins the approval of experts: the International
 Telecommunication Union (ITU), which closely works with the Somali
 telecoms companies, says the lack of any regulatory body is a big 
 worry.


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[GKD] ANN: Open Spectrum Mailing List

2003-06-28 Thread S Woodside
Open ICT dot net announces a new mailing list,
  [EMAIL PROTECTED] 

Open Spectrum is the frequencies that supports the use of Wi-Fi/802.11b,
and other wireless internet access technology. Wi-Fi and other wireless
data systems make a very good urban/rural internet access solution, as
shown by the massive growth in Wireless ISP and community wireless
networks. However, in many places regulatory uncertainty leaves its
users at risk. The purpose of this list is to further the proliferation
of good open spectrum policies world-wide.

Topic:
Discussion and community effort towards the proliferation of open
spectrum policy and regulations world-wide (including developing
nations).

Subscribe:
  [EMAIL PROTECTED]

List archives and resources on Open Spectrum:
  http://openict.net/projects/openspectrum/

For other projects hosted at Open ICT dot net, please see
  http://openict.net/projects

Please forward this email to anyone I may have missed.

simon

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Re: [GKD] RFI: Computer Donations To The Third World

2003-06-25 Thread S Woodside
What about importing to small businesses instead? instead of donating
the computers, provide them at cost to small business owners who can
resell them and provide support services?

simon

On Monday, June 23, 2003, at 12:29 AM, Raju Dev Acharya wrote:

 I totally agree with Guido Sohne. In Nepal I can buy a new PIII for
 US$300. Also importing PC for distribution into the country takes a lot
 of time and effort  due to the never ending red tape and can take
 months. This increases the cost of the PC if the cost incurred in the
 host country is added to the total cost of the donor.


  Guido Sohne [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

 I was in a thread elsewhere that discussed this same issue and I also
 thought that shipping used PCs makes perfect sense. The problem is the
 actual cost of the used PCs when other overheads are taken into 
 account.

 ..snip...


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Re: [GKD] Can WAP Improve Access for Bad Connections?

2003-03-06 Thread S Woodside
On Monday, March 3, 2003, Dave Harcourt [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

 Most INTERNET sites are things of beauty with all sorts of flash, nice
 pictures, images, fonts and whatever that slow down access - one can of
 course set up ones browser to leave out all these nice things, but I
 wonder how often people do?

Even the ICT development sites on the internet are guilty of designing
heavy-weight sites that have lots of images. They also use tables for
layout instead of the newer CSS2 (cascading style sheets) layout
capabilities. That has a double-effect, it adds bloat to the page, and
it also makes it very difficult to decode the flow when you are
accessing the site using a text-only browser like the email gateway or
the lynx browser.

Some sites that have IMHO overloaded graphics and layout:
http://www.digitalopportunity.org/
http://www.worldcomputerexchange.org/
http://www.netaid.org/

I'm working on a site that is intended to have a very light-weight
layout:
http://openict.net/

For a while it was hard to do CSS2 layout that would work in all
browsers, but now there are solutions available, like the one I used for
OpenICT.

Simon




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Re: [GKD] Can WAP Improve Access for Bad Connections?

2003-03-04 Thread S Woodside
Simon --

My WAP experience was about 2 years ago. At that time it was a dead end
technology because it just technically didn't work very well at all. The
markup language is horrible, and the protocol is also horrible.

XHTML: the idea was to have very small pages that wireless devices can
handle. However most pages on the WWW that claim to be XHTML do not in
fact validate as XML -- that means that the small devices /cannot/ in
fact use them. This is major reason for the movement away from XHTML
back to HTML 4.01 that is going on in some circles (like me!).

Perhaps, though, I am out of date. more below

On Thursday, February 27, 2003, at 06:45  AM, Simon Batchelor wrote:

 Many of my colleagues in Africa complain that low bandwidth and poor
 phone connections mean that surfing the internet is not yet a real
 possibility - just a source of frustration.

 If I understand WAP correctly, then xhtml pages are being set up which
 are very very small so they can be provided to mobile phones in Europe.
 This seems to be a sort of low bandwidth parrallel internet.

 Questions:

 First - is my understanding of the parallel net correct?

 Second - if it is, could we who are in development create a service that
 used basic xhtml software to gather news and in particular development
 news to make it available for people anywhere in the world (ie not
 mobile phone restricted) who have a PC with a bad phone connection to
 the internet.  Or has someone done that and I am not aware of it.

If you are asking, could you create a lightweight internet service that
aggregates news and information for people with poor internet
connections, then yes. There are many ways to accomplish this. Perhaps
the easiest is simply with the existing web infrastructure. Using CSS2
and HTML 4.01 it is possible to create very light-weight sites that load
very quickly ... see sohne.net and openict.net for examples. If you can
convince existing sites to move to the CSS2 layout model, reduce their
use of graphics to a minimum (and within a year, switch to SVG which can
be very low bandwidth, once it is supported). So many of the ICT
development sites out there have /huge/ layout overhead that must make
display and download very slow indeed for those on a poor modem
connection. I need not give examples, virtually all of them are guilty!


Simon




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