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Priority unfulfilled needs and opportunities for improved Internet development

Among the most important needs identified in many of the countries were to:

Develop access points and demand in secondary cities and rural areas.
  • by training users in these areas and supporting them with equipment and installation subsidies.
  • by addressing the needs of those without computers through the establishment of shared community telecentres and promotion or support for wireless link alternatives where necessary,
  • promotion of improved interfaces for the non-literate and less educated such as text to voice output, touch screens, webTV, voice recognition, and improved machine translation facilities for major languages,
  • support for the use of special equipment for the disabled, such as Braille keyboards and voice cards for the blind.
Support increased collaboration and co-ordination of international agencies. Aside from the obvious advantages in improving the effectiveness of Internet related projects and in helping to identify sources of support for local initiatives from existing regional and global projects, this should also build strong local hosts by encouraging international agencies to use local ISPs for non-critical traffic instead of using their autonomous systems for all communications.

Support for technical training to induct new host system operators and to upgrade the skills of the existing ones. Aside from financial assistance for holding individual training sessions and national training workshops, identification and promotion of low cost training centres in more advanced countries should also take place. Due to the high travel and subsistence costs, regional training workshops are perhaps a less appropriate option unless they are combined with an International conference. A related need is to gather system installation and maintenance documentation in Portuguese.

Support the establishment of local cross-sector national information infrastructure (NII) working groups. This will require: synthesis and circulation of the existing country studies and research in the countries to provide more detailed information for determining strategy and learning from existing experiences. Related to this is the need to put in place on-going mechanisms for countries to share experiences. There will be a particular need to provide NII working groups with technical assistance for them to develop national Network Information Centres (NICs), information infrastructure plans and inventories of local resources. These groups could be related to any existing IT or ICT working groups, but not be subsumed by them, unless there is some clear committee structure that focuses on national network planning and information exchange between all sectors.

Support the establishment of an African and Latin American centre for administration of IP addresses, autonomous system numbers and continent wide directory services, like the AsiaNIC, RIPE and the InterNIC.

Promote information on low cost alternatives for setting up Internet/Intranet hosts to all sectors, but especially to SME's interested in setting up public access Internet drop-in centres and to computer systems suppliers. This would aim to counter the barriers caused by the general perception of high costs, and include information on development of basic business plans or cost recovery methods for different scales of service.

Provide technical assistance to the telecom operators for improvement of the bandwidth of local loop infrastructure - through promotion of innovative methods for upgrading existing copper circuits from analogue to digital (such as ADSL) and using wireless links where necessary.

Identify and promote sources of low cost and second hand computer hardware and software. Also to provide training to maintain the equipment and encourage national governments to reduce import duties on ICT equipment.

Identify sources of soft finance for local Internet based business start-ups and international partners willing to invest in joint ventures.

Provide technical assistance to ISPs to improve their reliability and quality of service by:
  • implementing redundant links and dialup backup systems,
  • by encouraging the use of methods to reduce congestion of international links through installation of local peering points, caching servers and mirror sites (peering points carry traffic between ISPs, caching servers and mirror sites hold local copies of information repositories originating in North America or Europe)
  • promoting the use of digital satellite data-broadcasting to reduce congestion on leased line circuits and even to provide high bandwidth data services to end users in KU band footprint areas,
  • promoting the new developments in web/http server protocols to deal with email-only access, low bandwidth and/or wireless connections - e.g. HTTP-NG, Agora email to web gateways etc. In addition, support could be provided for analysis of traffic patterns to assist in network topology planning, bandwidth provisioning and pricing mechanisms to spread usage more evenly over the day, and also for administrative and business skills upgrading for small service providers.

Assist with the evaluation of the alternative proposals for Internet services provided by the private sector in the tenders of public bodies and with obtaining preferential treatment for public sector users from ISPs, and in Intelsat's allocation of satellite channels for education.

Provide technical assistance to national, provincial and municipal governments to implement Intranets and to move their existing data from standalone systems to open networked systems.

Encourage the development of sub-regional links in general, and particularly between culturally or economically connected neighbouring countries.

Encouragement for the establishment of content building service centres (possibly attached to ISPs) which can provide web site development and training, advice with establishing organisational web servers for small and medium sized organisations and other related content development areas such as audio/video servers and CD ROM mastering facilities and low cost systems for the rendering of cultural artefacts for placement in web museums.

Support for developing country participation in the ongoing process of development of international intellectual property protection policies, information law, policing and the technical mechanisms for ensuring their adherence.

Sensitisation of more 'conservative' decision makers to the possibilities for using the Internet.

Assistance to organisations with legacy LAN systems (e.g. Lantastic and IPX), and legacy WAN systems (eg Zoomit, Compuserve, Lotus Notes) to move to open Internet/Intranet based facilities. Many of these systems do not have simple means of transmitting binary file attachments, do not reply correctly to errors from mailing lists, use inefficient transmission protocols and are generally more expensive to operate and maintain.

Identification and promotion of modem brands which operate best on low quality telephone lines susceptible to lightning.

Mike Jensen 8th September 1997

Related Articles

Policy constraints to electronic information sharing in developing countries by Mike Jensen

Key Internet Policy Issues - a series of contributions from people living in countries new or relatively new to the Internet about what they consider to be key policy issues related to the deployment and use of the Internet in their country.

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ISSN: 1664-834X Copyright © , Alan McCluskey, info@connected.org
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Created: September 8th, 1997 - Last up-dated: September 8th, 1997