[GKD] Sensitise Technologists to the Needs of the Underserved World

2003-12-05 Thread Satish Jha
Much of these discussions seem to be taking place from the perspective
that is at a remove, if not alien, to the world they are trying to
address.

I am reminded of a project of creating kiosks that is being carried out
in a couple dozen villages of India where the donor agency has allocated
some $10 million to plan and implement it over a year and a half and
some international consulting companies are trying to address the issue
of creating connectivity for these underserved areas.

All the wisdom of large donors, international consultants and telecom
companies has left the project open to never achieving sustainability
without writing off every bit of investment. Comparing it to the
sustainable models that are emerging locally, the gap is of the order of
$1600 to $30,000 in initial investments and it may yield comparable
revenues of about $2500 annual from each kiosk.

These costs are high significantly because of communications costs being
allocated to every kiosk. They evaluated all possible alternatives -
from low, medium to high bandwidth and came to architect a hybrid
solution. However, what may work in these situations are low power, long
battery life, portable instrument-based communication where unit costs
have to be brought down well below what the connectivity havens are used
to.

The technologies identified by Vickram Crishna have the potential to
make a difference if they are designed from the perspective of offering
an acceptable (that do not de-motivate) level of services at prices way
lower than what the industrial world is happy paying. Often times,
technologies end up finding answers to problems that we may be
struggling with, and create new issues that we need to grapple with. But
we need an appreciation that technologies can indeed address these
issues significantly, provided the technologists are sensitised to the
needs of the underserved world.


satish jha 
president, digital partners india 
www.digitalpartners.org.in




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

2003-11-25 Thread Satish Jha
Dear GKD Members:

It is interesting to note the emphasis on policy. I for one, based on my
education and experience base have come to believe that the Governments
must not make technology choices and it should be best left to the
forces that are well experienced in using it to the purposes they get
paid for.

However, who creates the policy? The government? Do they have adequate
capacity to develop a policy framework for all their citizens or
optimising global goals? Yes and NO! That is precisely why policies
differ across governments and international organisations. We have not
been able to create an agreed framework that may make policy-making
itself a task that yields expected results. So the policy ends up
becoming largely dependent on who in particular wrote it, who backs it
up and who takes more than a fair share of interest in it.

Having said that, there are a few intriguing developments that some of
us may like to note:

All international calls out of India begining 20th Nov are
going to be charged @ $0.14 (14 cents approx but less than 15 US cents).
This is way below what is available to anyone living in the heaven of
telecom (fixed lines only) users called the USA. They will still be
paying upwards of 49 cents a minite to call India and more for calling
the rest of the developing world!

So when a villager from India can call his alien US resident kids for 15
cents instead of the usual $3 they have been used to and that had come
down to 40 cents lately, it will bring in a different kind of knowledge
transfer, behavioural changes, and contribute its few cents worth to
development. Once again made possible by a very competitive market where
notoriously bad investment made by a government will profitably make
it competitive vis a vis the leaders of technology such as ATT and the
likes.


Sincerely,
satish jha




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

2003-11-19 Thread satish jha
Its increasingly clear to us:

That there are no standard answers to it - people have begun using what
they have access to - GSM, TDMA, WiFi, cable (even where there is no
telephone and it is primarily used for TV), VSAT or what have you.

That each piece of technology gets created to (a) either address a
specific problem or (b) becomes available to some unintended problems on
its way to finding a solution to something at a remove (c) simply
serendipity (d) stumbling upon something by users etc...

There is little planning outside of large organised structures to
address the issue (both governmental and commercial) and efficacy of
corporate investments in terms of both quality and ROI is generally
closer to targets than the government bodies have managed.

There has been an opening of mind that life according to internet cannot
be lived in megs or gigs but, enthusiasts of any success hyping it up to
a level that it becomes counter-productive, continue to flourish.

The quality of emerging/ alternate technologies is far from satisfactory
and in terms of quality cost-effectiveness may also be equally suspect.




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