Thursday, August 26, 2004

On Thursday 19 August 2004 04:39 pm, James Neusom wrote to the BDPA Africa mailing list:

> Wireless Convergence
> I see the term Wireless as one ubiquitous technology.
> Whether we're talking about Wi-Fi (802.xx), Blue tooth
> (short range transmissions) and/or Cellular, in my
> minds eye they all have the same purpose; To transfer
> data from one device to another. Now depending on
> what world you're living in (Business, Consumer, etc.)
> the hardware device may change but the purpose remains
> the same.

It's official now. IEEE 802.11s is supposed to provide seamless handoffs among the other 802.11x wireless transmission methods, Bluetooth, and others.

The technology is coming along nicely. What we need is the organization and funding to make it all happen. This means a combination of microcredit financing, UN and NGO programs, local training in wireless and computer technologies, starting local businesses to assemble and install equipment and provide services, and more. When we can prove to the big computer companies such as IBM, HP, or Sun that this is a real market, the rest will happen in a rush.

The Grameen Foundation USA is running experiments in its Village Computing Project. You can help them with funds, with expertise, with sites for demonstration projects, and more. As soon as they understand what economic impacts computers and communications can have, and how to train people to use them effectively, they intend to create programs worldwide to place the equipment, initiate the training, and provide the rest of the infrastructure needed. The model for this is the Grameen Phone company, founded when the Grameen Bank couldn't get cooperation from the national phone company in Bangladesh for placing cell phones in villages.

Many African countries have laws restricting the use of computers and communications, and restricting the funding mechanisms to get them into use. This includes government telecommunication monopolies, laws against routing telephone calls over the Internet (Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP), and banking laws that interfere with microcredit. Wherever you are, you can ask your government to change restrictive laws and to provide funding itself.

If getting everybody in Africa into the global conversation, the global information society, and the global information economy is important to you, get involved and tell everybody you know. Whatever your skills and interest, wherever you may be located, you can help. We need techies, translators, organizers, and people to tell the story to everybody else. If you know any African language and you read this list, you can help in translating Linux into your local language. If you have tech skills, you can help install the gear and train more techies. If not, you can ask a Linux User Group to help you try out Linux, and you can spread the word.

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