Access and connectivity for remote rural panel: Basic infrastructure needed

RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil

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 (Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on how the internet is run. It was set up at the end of 2005 by the United Nations Secretary-General following a resolution made by governments at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Style information: N/a

Source: APC">IGF). Andrew is the director of APC.au, a digital media arts company based on the Internet Rights Source: APC ">Charter

of the Source: APC website">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
Communications (APC).



Observations


Panellist Vint Cerf brought not only wisdom, but clarity to the panel without
having to describe the origins of the Source: TechSoup Glossary and GenderIT.org">internet

or present another argument for
access.

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 Style information: Do not use e-mail with a hyphen.

Source: Wikipedia">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 "African journalists trained in how to communicate securely online" (APCNews and Toni Eliasz, 30 September 2004), Take Back the Tech! and APC Internet Rights Charter">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.


Recommendations
for reducing APC Internet Rights Charter">internet access

costs workshops (posted by Willie):

  • Governments
    combine a national broadband strategy with a strict competition policy for the
    Source: APC">ICT

    sector.
     
  • Governments
    should liberalise international gateways and landing stations.
  • Governments
    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 ICT for Rural Livelihoods">enabling environment

    for ISPs to open internet exchange points  to retain domestic traffic inside the country

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