Refuting objections to a Global Rural Network (GRNet) for developing nations (originally published in August 2004)
In a previous article, we suggested that it is now time to undertake a Grand Challenge project: providing Internet connectivity for every village in every developing nation. Doing so would require perhaps a decade and billions of dollars for design and planning, procurement, installation and operation. Critics object that such a project would not be worth the effort and investment. This article considers nine objections to such an undertaking.
1. Internet connectivity would be nice, but it is not a high priority.
2. Internet service has been offered in rural areas of developing nations, and there is little demand for it.
3. There are no applications of interest or value to illiterate rural people who do not speak English.
4. There is no sustainable business model.
5. Developing nations lack the people and resources to do research.
6. Even if the world community can justify sponsoring the research leading to a concrete backbone plan, developing nations cannot afford to implement it.
7. Villagers cannot afford to use the network even if the backbone transport and connection are free.
8. Developing nations cannot afford high–speed connectivity — low–cost store–and–forward technology is more appropriate technology for a poor, developing nation.
9. We should focus on cities where there is already demand, not rural areas.
We discuss each of these, and conclude with a brief outline of next steps.
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