Developing nations the new priority for the telecoms industry

At the Telecom Development Symposium held as part of ITU Telecom World, leaders (including 180 from 90 of the least-developed and low-income ITU Member States) met to discuss how ICT can help bridge the digital divide and drive growth in their countries. The event was organised by the ITU with support from Cisco Systems. Cat Barton Reports.

At the Telecom Development Symposium (TDS) held as part of ITU Telecom World, leaders (including 180 from 90 of the least-developed and low-income ITU Member States) met to discuss how ICT can help bridge the digital divide and drive growth in their countries. The event was organised by the ITU with support from Cisco Systems. Cat Barton Reports.

Developing Nations benefit most from NGNs

TDS resoundingly concluded that it is developing nations such as Cambodia which are likely to benefit most from Next Generation Network (NGN) technologies, This was the view of Tony Bates, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Cisco Systems: "We are at a transformational point in ICT development and developing nations like Cambodia are in an increasable position - they have a minimum amount of fixed legacy and are thus in a position to leapfrog forward."

Precisely because developing nations such as Cambodia do not have such fixed legacy, they have no need to pay for expensive overhauls of such systems but can simply 'leapfrog' to using advanced fixed and wireless technologies.

Cambodia has already made tremendous strides towards increasing connectivity by using fixed, wireless and mobile technologies. And yet there is, for Tony Bates, a wide consensus within the industry that the next phase of networked communications will be based upon NGN technologies.

Such technologies promise enhanced connectivity through cost-effective and sustainable infrastructure development and management. And that is why the ITU argues that NGNs promise to foster the use of communications for greater socio-economic development, including e-education, e-health, and e-government, and will enable countries to boost productivity and growth.

ITU bases its support for NGN technology on its covering the transition from traditional circuit switched networks to higher capacity, lower cost packet-based or Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructures. These are essential to take advantage of new opportunities for development and to bridge the digital divide.

Internet Village Motoman

 "Already, innovative ICT projects in Cambodia have helped connect remote rural schools to the internet," said Tony Bates. "With NGN technology things can only get better."

Cambodia was picking itself up and could show the way to several developing nations. Mr Bates went on to cite the example of a First Mile Solutions project called 'Internet Village Motoman', which used new ICT to provide internet access for 15 solar-powered village schools, telemedicine clinics, and the governor's office in a remote province of Cambodia - using five Honda motorcycles.

The project worked by equipping new schools in the villages with solar panels on the roof to provide sufficient energy to run a computer for six hours and providing an e-mail link via a motorcycle delivery system.

 

Early every morning, five Honda motorcycles leave the hub in the provincial capital of Banlung, where a satellite dish donated by Shin Satellite links the provincial hospital and a special skills school to the Internet for telemedicine and computer training.

The motorcycle drivers, equipped with a small box and antenna at the rear of their vehicle that downloads and delivers e-mail through a wi-fi (wireless) card, begin the day by collecting the e-mail from the hub's dish, which takes just a few seconds.

Then, as they pass each school and one health centre, they transmit the messages they have downloaded and retrieve any outgoing mail queued in the school or health centre computer, also equipped with a similar book-sized transmission box. They then go on to the next school. At the end of the day they return to the hub to transmit all the collected e-mail to the Internet for any point on the globe.

"This is an example of technology changing the quality of life, it is testament to the power of engineering. While the telecoms industry is not inventing technology for technology's sake, we respond to consumer demand across the broadest possible consumer base."

TDS helped to highlight the fact that developing nations are now a major part of that consumer base, and have now become the primary focus of the telecommunication industry?s attention, particularly with regards to NGN technology, this also being the conclusion expressed elsewhere in this review, of Fernando Lagraña, Executive Manager of ITU Telecom World.

"The industry has the potential of benefiting the developing world in ways we hadn't even deemed possible a few years ago," he said. "We must ensure that the future of the industry is shaped by the needs of the least developed and developing world."

More info:

Tony Bates, Cisco Systems
?It is a real advantage for developing countries to be starting from scratch,? said Bates.

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