|Chapter 6: Identifying Appropriate Technologies
Villages in India and Cambodia have been using the DakNet system. One of the earliest deployments was as an affordable connectivity solution for the Bhoomi e-Government project. In Cambodia, rural schools were connected through a similar wireless ad hoc system using motorcycles equipped with MAPs. Similar networks have been established in Rwanda, Costa Rica, and South Africa, where beer trucks provided this type of connectivity to schools. Obviously, the service provided is best for “store and forward” content like e-mail, but, limited as it is, it is a big improvement over nothing at all.
Asynchronous broadband wireless connectivity is a start for rural areas where demand is still limited to primarily storing and forwarding e-mail communication and where it is not yet cost effective to establish real-time networks. Such asynchronous networks, however, can be scaled up easily to a real-time network when demand increases and end-user applications requiring real-time connectivity are available.A similar system with CDMA connectivity is being used by the e-Tuktuk project in Sri Lanka.(20)
6.8. Case Study: Cost Sharing for Sustainability—VSAT Connectivity in Mali
Most of the 13 community learning and information centers (CLICs) around Mali initially used modems for dial-up connectivity to an ISP in Bamako. The connection proved too slow and unreliable, and the CLICs were losing revenue essential for achieving self-sustaining operation. USAID, the CLICs’ external sponsor, funded the installation of VSAT systems for 10 of the 13 CLICs and provided decreasing support for connectivity costs over the project term. Once installed, the VSAT connection, providing 128 Kbps down and 64 Kbps up, cost about US$400 per month.(21)
It was difficult for most of the CLICs to earn enough from telecenter activity to pay this high monthly cost. A wireless system was installed to connect at least three other clients to the CLICs, including community radio stations. The synergy between radio and Internet in Mali is described in Box 17. For some of the CLICs with VSAT systems, sharing connectivity costs made them affordable. Unfortunately, few organizations, businesses, or government offices in rural Mali have sufficient money to maintain a shared connection.(22)