Access and connectivity for remote rural panel: Basic infrastructure needed
Here are Andrew Garton’s observations on the “Access and connectivity for remote rural” panel, held on Tuesday 13 November in Rio de Janeiro, as part of this year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Andrew is the director of APC.au, a digital media arts company based on the Internet Rights Charter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).
Here are Andrew Garton’s observations on the "Access and connectivity for remote rural" panel, held on Tuesday 13 November in Rio de Janeiro, as part of this year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Andrew is the director of APC.au, a digital
media arts company based on the Internet Rights Charter of the Association for Progressive
Panellist Vint Cerf brought not only wisdom, but clarity to the panel without
having to describe the origins of the internet or present another argument for
What was clear from the general discussions though, was that basic
infrastructure is required well before the multiplicity of access issues are
addressed, or rather, that access is not just about the internet, its about the
means to enable development.
Vint Cerf explained that the internet was originally intended to be
built by anyone, anywhere, or at least anywhere there was basic infrastructure
including power, computers and self-sustaining businesses models.
It was also stated that there is no point creating the means for access of
there is no locally useful content available in a locally useful language and
this goes for all forms of communication.
It was interesting for me to reflect on the access issues described in, for
example, the Pacific. In 1992 I presented Pactok Community Networks to Pacific
Island delegates to the Global Forum, Earth Summit.
Pactok was a store and forward network comprised of a mix of hubs and access
points, local and international calls, UUCP and fido-gateways that provided
Pacific Island communities with secure access to email and news groups and the
international APC networks. Even in 1992 the Pactok connectivity map was quite
impressive. It included Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Kuala Lumpur, Cibu and
Kuching (Sarawak), Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
By 1996 Pactok was all but spent with the last hub decommissioned as late as
1999. With the advent of web came increased expectations for the use of net
which quickly eroded access to individuals and communities in the region,
content in local dialects and security.
If the kind of access people were talking about should be made available
according to local means and capabilities, why did a network such as Pactok,
and the many others like it, go into decline so quickly?
I was to add my reflections with a view towards steering the remaining
discussion from individual access issues towards:
How do we manage expectations, and;
What are the next steps for this Dynamic Coalition?
For some reason, despite having my hand up since the moment questions were
called, and the moderator handing the microphone to participants in front and
behind me, I had not been given the opportunity to speak. This did not go
unnoticed to those sitting around me.
Other than what Willie managed to tease out of this session, it closed with no
clear methodology nor recommendations for the coalition to make advances.
for reducing internet access costs workshops (posted by Willie):
combine a national broadband strategy with a strict competition policy for the
should liberalise international gateways and landing stations.
should end monopolies in fixed line provision especially with regard to the
leasing of fixed lines, unbundling the local loop, the collocation of
facilities and permitting ISPs to build their own networks.
- Governments should create an enabling environment for ISPs to open internet exchange points to retain domestic traffic inside the country