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Bringing Internet and Education to South East Asia and Africa

John Hawker and Sat-Ed pp. 3-25

The interview describes the work of John Hawker with satellites, digital tv,  and more recently the IPTV protocol from the late  1990s to the present in Thailand and Africa.

John describes how he used caching very early on to solve he economics of bring education content and internet to remote places in Thailand.  Most importantly because John lives in the village of the family of his Thai wife, Nog Pai where I visited him in March 2010, he sees first hand how the technology can solve local problems.

He describes how between 2002 and 2005 he built a viable ICT Center where internet in an area with phone service, could help to educate and to connect the local people both with government and with their family members who were working in Bangkok or other parts of the country,  When IPStar launched in 2004 its spot beam technology – approximately 200 transponders narrowly focusable enabled one satellite to increase its coverage approximately twenty fold and lower the price per service proportionally.

John describes how from 2005-2008 he worked with the Ministry of Education to build up 2000 hours of content in line with the local curricula that could be cached on local servers in schools in many remote sections of Thailand.  He also describes how the school content could productively mix with local ICT centers and what could have been benefits of scale to Sat-Ed, his company, if he had been able to expand the number of sites sufficiently.  The coup against Thaksin in 2006 prevented this.

After the financial collapse  and with the growing red shirt versus yellow shirt strife, he and some investor friends decided that there was opportunity for internet by satellite and education in Africa especially in Ghana that did not exist in south east Asia where the incumbent government owned telecom provider didn’t monopolize the use of the satellite.  Consequently John divides his time between Nong Pai and Ghana where he is introducing v-sat at $100 a month instead of the more normal two to three thousand that has been charged.

Does the Speed of Technology Change Render Effectively Policy Making Impossible?  pp. 26-30


A commentary by the editor on the disconnect that occurs in the speeded up world of the 21st century internet that is still governed by 20th century policy processes and expectations.  Technology change happens so quickly and without any pauses of equilibrium that it exceeds the ability of regulatory systems to maintain pace.  Corporations use the power of their lobbyists to overwhelm the legislative ability to control spending and programs grow so large with contracted staff that de-facto control of events slips beyond the now co-opted governments grasp.

Rampant mergers and the resulting tendency toward monopolization plus the ability of the few remaining players to co-opt the market through “signaling”  creates an arms race where  the government tries to regulate by rules and administrative procedure while the business strive to create creative ways to evade any would be control.  If the government in effect is controlled by the private sector and cannot or will not act on behalf of its citizens, power will likely devolve from the hollowed out center to more tribe like relations between citizens living on their own n local communities.

Where Has Innovation Gone?  pp.30-43


We have a not well-recognized problem:   maintenance of the captured regulatory status quo stifles innovation and acts as a sea anchor on the global economy.  The first decade of the commercial Internet 1995-2005 gave the global ICT community access as never before to build overlays of the monopolistic PSTN.  Since the bursting of the dot com bubble we have had a decade of increasing enclosure of the internet commons in the name of private investment.  Failure by the political system to understand that the Internet is a general purpose technology on which the general public welfare depends has led to the situation described below.

The business model depends on defending old investments.  On keeping walled gardens protected from the entry of innovative approaches that would challenge it.  PCs and mobile phones the two technologies on which the early internet boom depended are now mature and are commoditized.  As Hendrick Rood points out the teens should be the decade of sensors and of machine-to-machine communication.  But sensors cut across sectors and across walled-gardens.  To be useful, they must have access to the basic network.  However the resources they take are so small that their use although systemically of large impact, is not economically viable if regulators insist that each network operator insist on a uniform price for access to the local loop no matter whether the customer is a human with PC or thermostat on a smart grid.  The iron grip of the incumbents on the regulators could be forcing the users of sensors to build separate networks.  This may well render the use of the technology infeasible.

As Tim Cowen points out, decision makers would do well to think about the benefits of interdependence rather than protection of proprietary designs.  John Wilson shows how some Google tools can be used to measure trends geographically. Sorting all this out demands complex multi-dimensional thinking.

Internet Architecture and Innovation, pp. 44-51

We offer a lengthy review of Brabar van Schewick's Internet Architecture and Innovation (MIT Peress July 2010).


Emphasis on the facilitation of innovation by the architecture of Internet is not new.  What is new and welcome in the author’s work is the meticulous examination of how and why this is true.  To carry this out she argues from the framework of meticulously crafted structure.  She carefully lays out each step of her argument – explaining where she is going and how and why she is going to get there. I would assume that he training in the law affects her ability to do this – something she does exceedingly well.

 

Contents

 

Bringing Internet and Education to

South East Asia and Africa

John Hawker and Sat-Ed  p.3

Local Caching as Key to Rural Deployment p.5

Part 2: The ICT Centers that Preceded IPTV in Schools p. 12

Our First Community ICT Center  p. 19

IP Africa p. 22

 

The Impact of Technology on Policy:

Trying to Do the Impossible

Commentary by Gordon Cook  p. 26


Arch-econ Discussion July 2010

Where Has Innovation Gone?  p. 30

Focus on Next Quarter’s Results Ignores Coming Inflection Point of

End of IPv4 addresses.  p. 31

Trend-spotting: Google Trends & News for "Broadband  Internet" and

so on  p. 37


Book Review by Gordon Cook

Internet Architecture and Innovation  p. 44

Abstract Definition of innovation in Relation to Architecture, p.44

Policy Debates Prior to van Schewick. p. 46

Vertical Integration Issues, p.48

Enable Cyber infrastructure as a General Proving Ground

for New Applications. p.48

Text Box: Broad versus narrow interpretation of end-to-end

and net neutrality, p.51

 

Executive Summary p. 52