Frederick Noronha on Tue, 7 Mar 2000 20:36:43 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] BytesForAll MARCH2K Issue#7

01010101  bYtES For aLL * bYtES For aLL * bYtES For aLL  10101010
1010101010.....AN OCCASIONAL NEWSLETTER TO MAKE........0101010101
0101010101..........COMPUTING AND TECHNOLOGY...........1010101010
1010101010....FRIENDLY TO NEEDS OF THE MILLIONS........0101010101
1010101010..Compiler: Frederick Noronha
Commsphere2000 was held in South India with the theme 'Affordable
Telecom and IT Solutions for Developing Countries'. More  details 
from  web-site
distant rural villages, which he has just had a patent claim 
registered in Dhaka. "We're combining the best elements of radio 
engineering, telecommunications and computer science to offer a 
high-speed communication network in remote rural villages spread 
over large areas. And we are doing this will relatively small 
budgets too," says Haque.
Using this method, 3 MBPS or more high-speed links are expected 
to villages, using wireless routers. He said 20-30 telephone 
channels and video phone sets could be offered for a capital cost 
of US$150,000 to villages which otherwise had no hope of being 
connected. "We aim to provide mega-bits, not just kilo-bits," 
said Haque. 
Haque says that in Bangladesh, by 2002, there will be 129 million 
people who will NOT have access to telephone services, "a 
staggering error in judgement when compared to the lucky one 
million people who will have the privilege of calling someone 
using their own telephone". 
He called his paper a "partial report" of work in the continuing 
design, fabrication and deployment of a Broadband Wireless IP 
Router working in the S-band using Spread Spectrum in order to 
develop a flexible, portable data communications network 
operating at between 2 MBPS and 5.5 MBPS over 16-30 km or more."
Email contact:

INDIA HAS LESS THAN 25 million telephones and one million 
Internet connections for its 1000 million people. Making telecom 
and Internet available to (at least) 150 to 200 million people in 
India is a must if it is to avoid a sharp divide within society 
and build an ability to stand up to the world, says Professor 
Ashok Jhunjhunwala (of the Indian Institute of Technology in 
But there are serious bottnecks to achieving this goal. Economics 
is foremost. Today's largely Western developed technologies offer 
cost-effective services in the West. A cost of $30 per month as 
service charges for each connection is not considered too high 
and is probably affordable to over 90% of the people in the West. 
This technology, catering to a $30 per month subscriber, could 
easily cost around $1000 per connection (assuming that a 35% 
return on investment covers the cost of investment and 
operation). But at $40 per month, telecom and Internet services 
are affordable to less than 1.5% households in India. The service 
charges need to be reduced to $15 per month to make it affordable 
to the next five per cent of households and to less than $6 per 
month so as to cater to another 25% of households. 
"Development of such low-cost technology is naturally not a 
priority task for corporates in the West. It has to become 
however the focus for the R&D community and companies in the 
developing world," argues Prof Jhunjhunwala.

chance, the Internet revolution could broaden the already large 
gap between the economies of developed and developing nations." 
He notes that in India, the experiences of organisations like 
CDOT (the Centre for the Development of Telematics) in designing 
telephone switching equipment proved that engineering talent is 
available and there is a need to develop more affordable 
communication equipment, which is also more compatible with the 
governments' need to balance trade. 
"Analog Devices' experience in working with IIT-Madras and Midas, 
a start-up company assembled from IIT-Madras alumni, to develop a 
wireless local loop system [more on this below-ed.]  indicates 
that indigenous Indian companies are fully capable of designing 
world-class equipment that is significantly lower in cost than 
equivalent imported equipment," Stata added.

COPPER AND OPTICAL FIBRE of the Indian Railway network, besides 
wireless access, could provide Internet and telecom services in 
small towns and rural areas say railway engineers and engineering 
experts. Despite India having a number of Internet Service 
Providers, their efforts are largely limited to the major cities 
-- seldom reaching 100 cities in this vast country. Much more 
needs to be done. The Indian Railways has a network spanning 
every corner of India, and around 8,000 stations at an average 
distance of about seven kilometres. There is special quad copper 
cable laid between the stations. Normally used for voice 
telephony, there is one spare unloaded cable which was put in for 
train control purposes, but never used. Optical fibre is also 
available along several major routes. This paper introduces a 
special DSL on copper system, designed at the Indian Institute of 
Technology-Madras, which could be used to provide a high bit-rate 
date link between stations. These links can be connected to form 
a Railway Internet backbone network. The network could be 
connected to the Internet at major stations, either directly or 
using the fibre backbone of the Railways, wherever available. 
This network can be used to provide an Internet kiosk at every 
station. Further corDECT wireless in local loop technologies 
(also Indian) could be used to provide 30-200 Internet 
connections in the vicinity of 10 kms of the station. The most 
interesting aspect of this is that one can cover about 4000 towns 
and probably provide 100,000 Internet connections all over the 
small towns and rural areas of India in less than two years. 
Costs are small: probably around Rs 15,000 (US$350) per 
connection. The gains can be immense. Contact P R Goundan, Chief 
S&T Engineer (Projects), South Central Railway, Secunderabad-
India or Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT Madras

O'Neill. It is now possible to give 4.5 billion people the 
ability to leapfrog onto the Web, wherever there is electricity 
supply, without a traditional phoneline connection and without a 
PC. It's practicable to deliver multimedia services via powerline 
communications (powercoms) along the electricity line (not fibre 
optic) to the most humble dwelling, even if they only have an 
electric (legal or illegal) light bulb dangling from the ceiling. 

RESEARCHERS FROM SOUTH INDIA have made a case for a "serious 
examination" of the powerline as an access medium. This 
technology could be used for local loop applications in countries 
like India, where over 70% of households have power line 
connections already in place. "Even a fraction of this conductor-
capacity made usable for additional communication purposes would 
represent a significant enhancement in the availability of access 
medium," says C N Krishnan, P V Ramakrishna, T V Prasad and S 
Karthikeyan. Email

FOR BANGLADESH, networking telecommunication infrastructure -- 
specially in the rural areas where 80% of its people live -- is 
not normally affordable. The strategy needs increased 
productivity of existing resources, lowering the cost of 
infrastructure, diversification of services and concentration 
only on core competencies. Sharing existing infrastructure, like 
the use of railway fibre optic network, use of power pylons for 
overlaying optical fibre cable networks and sharing the capacity 
by all operators are reducing the investment cost. Combined 
efforts by the government, non-government groups, financial 
institutions and local people are required for the networking 
revolution, says South Asia Multimedia chairman Fazlur Rahman of 
Bangladesh Email

ENGINEERS FROM CHENNAI (South India) are working on plans to 
develop an access product to the Internet that does not require 
to obtain a phenomenally-costly leased line from a Telecom 
provider to get a permanent connection to the Internet. They note 
that of late the Internet has become "one of the most important 
means of acquiring information, carrying out commerce and 
conducting many kinds of educational and promotional activities".
An access network solution called 'Direct Internet Access System' 
(DIAS) achieves the goals of permanent Internet access and 
telephone service with a single line to the subscriber, which 
reduces the congestion on PSTN networks. 
The DIAS allows telecom operators to provide high bit-rate 
packet-switched Internet access to residential and corporate 
subscribers *simultaneously* in addition to voice services, on 
existing telephone cables. In addition to the existing 
infrastructure, DIAS separates the data traffic and sends 
directly to the Internet. So exchanges can be left untouched; no 
need to update the exchanges for increase in traffic due to dial-
up data access. In contrast to the current residential PSTN and 
ISDN dial-up access, DIAS provides an Internet access that is 
permanently available at the customer's premises at a very 
affordable cost. Contacts: Banyan Networks Pvt Ltd, Chennai, India
K. Anjaneya Sharma    
A.G. Suresh Babu      

corDECT SYSTEM IS A DECT-based wireless local loop system 
developed in India. Its features include that the subscriber-unit 
establishes and maintains a lot bit-rate (8 kbps) DECT half-slot 
contention-free, circuit-switched and connection to the Internet 
and on the down-link the base-station broadcasts packets at high 
-rate (324 kbps) using multiple double slots. The broadcast 
channel is shared among all active data users in a cell.
This is done differently from earlier attempts to transmit data 
on wireless local-loop systems, which mainly employed voice-band 
modems on circuit-switched channels.
Devendra Jalihal      
K. Giridhar           
Bhaskar Ramamurthi    
Dept of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Tech, Madras.

corDECT WILL-BASED TELEPHONES, based on technology from the IIT-
Madras and developed by Indian firm Shyam Telecom of New Delhi is 
bringing in encouraging reports from the dense coastal forest 
region of Sambava in Madagascar, rural towns in Fiji, the highly 
hilly terrain of Yemen, suburban Kisumu in Kenya, and dense urban 
settlements of Bhopal and New Delhi, says N. K.Mahapatra of Shyam 
Telecom Limited from New Delhi.  corDECT WILL was developed by 
IIT-Madras and M/S Midas Technologies Limited, with active 
support from M/S Analog Devices of the US.

corDECT is a telecom product designed with affordability of the 
commonman in the Third World in mind. Yet it provides all the 
services expected from a state-of-the-art telecom network. 
It is based on ETSI's DECT air interface standard and supports 
toll quality voice, voice-band fax/data, and above all, a 
facility to provide 35/70 KBPS of Internet connectivity. 
corDECT's subscriber terminal has two interfaces, one for the 
standard two-wire analog interface, so that a subscriber can 
connect any standard terminal such as a telephone instrument, 
fax/modem, payphone and the other one a RS232C Internet port, for 
connecting to a corresponding computer port. This provides a 
subscriber with two virtual lines, one dedicated for the Internet 
and the other for voice, fax, payphone or data. These ports can 
be used simultaneously. 
It has an all-features switch, which can be expanded in 1000 line 
units, and can be connected to the PSTN either on V5.2 or on R2MF 
and also on an analog subscriber interface. corDECT's air 
interface supports 10 kms line-of-sight links, and has a 
provision to extend this range to upto 35 kms, with the help of a 
relay-base station. Base stations can be connected to the corDECT 
radio switch with the help of either twisted copper cables (upto 
5 kms) or standard G.703 interface on any standard medium like 
fibre or microwave. 
Contact Shrish B Purohit, Director, Midas Communications, Chennai

PROF U.B. DESAI OF IIT-Bombay is studying a communication system 
for health care that "we believe will be very relevant to India". 
He argues that early diagnosis can prevent many casualties. With 
some minor modification, the same system can be exploited for 
distance education.

TUNISIAN RESEARCHERS HAVE developed an interactive virtual 
environment for web-based teaching and learning. This low-cost 
platform was developed in collaboration with INRS 
Telecommunications of Quebec. 
Using hypertext links, the environment offers a rapid and easy 
access to related documents and sites. Course documents contain 
text, graphics, animations, audio and video clips. This platform 
also integrates some communication facilities (chat, e-mail, 
conferences) to encourage interaction between students and 
teacher.  The platform is currently under evaluation. 
One of the first course developed is about electromagnetic 
compatibility (EMC) and its applications in telecommunications. 
R. Abdelhak, Ecole Superieure des Communications de Tunis
A. Ghazel, Pepiniere des Projets des Communications de Tunis
K. Bouleiman, Institut Superieur des Etudes Technologiques 
en Communications (ISET'COM)

MULTILINGUAL SYSTEMS, that's what was the subject of an 
experimental project of IIT Madras. It aimed at developing a 
system to meet the IT requirements of a country based on user 
interfaces that support interaction with computers in one's own 
mother tongue. 
The Multilingual System allows new applications to be handled 
with considerable ease due to the software tools made available 
as part of the system. The software permits applications to work 
transparently across all Indian languages and thus meets the 
important requirement of a single solution for all the many 
languages of India. Specific applications to cater to the needs 
of the underpriviledged as well as visually-handicapped persons 
have already been developed and made available to a number of 
Details are available of the system, and also a discussion on the 
technical issues in computing with Indian languages.
Contacts: Prof Kalyana Krishnan

LECTURING OVER THE INTERNET is made possible by a a new tool, 
code-named Instruction On Demand (IOD). It was developed over the 
last three years, and is in its development phase. IOD 
stimulates, on the user's PC screens, a typical seminar 
environment where a speaker lectures using overhead 
transparencies. The speaker's slides are available locally with 
all the participants, and can be downloaded-prior to the 
lectures. The flipping of the slides, at appropriate instants, on 
all the users' screens, is remotely controlled by the speaker. 
IOD users IP multicast to deliver audio and the users' 
annotations on the slides, in a synchronised fashion, to all the 
participants.  IOD has been tested over the last 18 months, and 
even a full semester course on the campus has been conducted 
using the tool. 
Contacts: Prof Kumar N Sivarajan, Indian Institute of Science in 
Bangalore Email

INTERNET ACCESS IN INDIA today is a definitely expensive 
proposition. In the US, Internet access costs $19.95 per month 
for unlimited access. Since local calls are free in the US, the 
cost of accessing the net is typically zero. Assuming that an 
average user spends an hour on the net every day, the average 
consumer pays about 66 cents or Rs 28 per hour in the US. 
On the other hand, in India, access costs along work out to about 
Rs 25 per hour. Additionally, ISPs typically charge somewhere 
between Rs 25 and 30 per hour of access. Thus the total cost of 
access works to a little more than Rs 50 per hour.
Dr Milind Gandhe and G. Murlikrishnan discuss a technology called 
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) that will allow the existing 
GSM wireless infrastructure to be used for wireless Internet 
access. GPRS can be implemented as a software-only upgrade on the 
existing GSM network.
Email contacts:

INDIA HAS SEEN A MUSHROOMING in its number of colleges -- 
particularly in the professional disciplines of engineering and 
medical. But most of them are not able to attract and retain 
quality teachers, or provide the educational ambience needed to 
impart quality instruction. The Internet could help, by offering 
affordable quality networking to improve higher education. 
Educational Technologies Service Providers (ETSP) can provide the 
logistics, content dissemination and management support through a 
network of educational servers for facilitating interactive 
Internet/Web facilitated serious academic programmes, suggests 
Prof K R Srivathsan of IIT Kanpur. 
Since it is difficult to get or retain the kind of manpower 
needed, the proposed ETSP could hire them and share them across 
several colleges in a given locale. He suggests using Hybrid 
Network architectures to overcome traffic bottlenecks. Since 
leased lines are expensive for colleges, Srivathsan suggests 
alternatives like (i) wireless in local loops or WILL (ii) 
Digital Internet Access Service that converts existing telephone 
copper write to DSL that splits telephony paths and 24 hour data 
circuits to the local exchange and the ISP respectively (iii) 
Different multiple access wireless access networks and (iv) Use 
of satellite-based digital broadcasting with interactive low 
speed terrestrial Internet access schemes to amplify throughput 
and improve QoS (quality of service).
Contacts K R Srivathsan

computers in a jiffy. So reports Dr Sugata Mitra of the NIIT's 
Centre for Research in Cognitive Systems. Mitra is with the 
National Institute for Information Technology (NIIT), a 
prestigious up-market computer education network training a 
quarter-million affluent Indian youngsters. But what has drawn 
him nationwide attention is his experiments in unravelling how 
speedily slum-children and the poor from non-English backgrounds 
can intuitively pick up computer concepts.
In two experiments conducted in India, PCs connected to the 
Internet were provided on the roadside and turned on without any 
instructions or announcement. In both instances it was seen that 
the acquisition of basic computing skills by groups of children 
was achieved through incidental learning and some minimal (human) 
guidance. He reported the observations, and compared the two 
experiments, besides suggesting steps to further the experiment 
and discuss the new pedagogy. Mitra also suggested a methodology 
for replicating the experiment for millions India-wide.
Contact: Dr Sugata Mitra

INDIAN LANGUAGE COMPUTING is a vital input if information and 
communication technologies are to reach the masses. Computing has 
to become low cost and must be accessible to the people in their 
language, says Prof Rajeev Sangal of the Indian Institute of 
Information Technology-Hyderabad's Language Technologies Research 
Support for keyboarding and display of Indian language scripts is 
absolutely basic. While flexibility may be left regarding 
keyboarding, the issue of the coding scheme  to be followed is 
crucial. Because the coding standards are not being followed, the 
scene is chaotic. There are a large number of fonts, each 
following a different coding scheme. This renders them unreadable 
unless you are on a specific platform and download the font 
first. Even then the texts cannot be searched, or machine-
In other words, there is no substitute for following coding 
standards. One recent answer is to use plug-ins so that texts at 
the server-end are stored in the ISCII standard (Indian Standard 
Character Interface), but are available to users at the client-
end in their own fonts and coding schemes. 
Fully-automatic, general purpose, high-quality machine 
translation (FGH-MT) technology is beyond the present state of 
the art. But language access systems have been shown to be 
feasible from one Indian language to another, called the 
*anusaaraka* systems. 
Besides technology, says Prof Sangal, digital content tailored to 
our environment and Indian needs has to be also available in 
the many national languages. Presently, a very small amount of 
educational and informational material in Indian languages is 
available on the Internet. Compact disks (CDs) with Indian 
language content are few, and expensively priced. 
In fact, CDs can be used to distribute the content cheaply. 
Networks can provide communication between people, and updates to 
content already distributed on CDs. 
Special attention should be pid to the generation of educational 
material. Otherwise, this medium will not play much of a role in 
education, just as happened in the case of TV. 
Contact Prof Rajeev Sangal

for India, a country which has just 400,000 Internet subscribers 
but 20 million households linked to cable TV, say engineers of 
Himachal Futuristic.
Contact P.C.Jain

THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Africans have yet to get access to 
basic communication services. Though there is a growing 
understanding of the need for universal access, lack of clear 
direction, inadequate resources and limited political readiness 
have continued to widen the gap between policy objectives and 
actions and between expectations and realization, says Lishan 
Adam. Adam is Regional Adviser on Connectivity of the Development 
Information Services Division in Ethiopia. Email

BYTES FOR ALL is simply an experiment to circulate news of IT 
solutions and Internet options that are relevant to the majority 
of South Asians. It's only modest role is to showcase, share and 
spotlight on such relevant initiatives being undertaken by others 
from the region... and beyond. Contacts Frederick Noronha (Goa-
India), or Partha Sarker 

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY can play a vital role in the development 
process of Nepal (i) by enhancing economic development 
opportunities through software production and e-commerce (ii) by 
accelerating social development efforts through access to health 
and education-related information and (iii) by providing 
government services with transparency, accountability and good 
governance, says Ramesh Vaidhya of the Nepal National Planning 
Commission. Email:

TV receivers have become affordable even in rural areas. For 
instance, the price of a 14-inch B&W TV receiver, which used to 
be Rs 2500 (US$58) in the early nineties, is now as low as Rs 
1100 (US$26) to Rs 1300 (US$30), says Y. Gopala Rao, the 
executive director of the Bharat Electronics Limited of Bangalore.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO's Osei K Darkwa looks at the need 
and use of multipurpose community telecentres (MCTs) in Africa. 
These centres have the ability to provide access to information 
and communication to predominantly under-served rural 
populations. His research looks at the need of MCTs to confront 
rural Africa's problems, the increasing applications of MCTs and 
MCT technologies in enhancing options for education, health, and 
socioeconomic development in rural Africa. Contact

WHAT IS THE ROLE for broadcasting in the Third World in the new 
millennium? "Emerging new digital technologies need not be 
acquired in haste by the developing countries, and Plain Old 
Radio (POR) may be good enough for 20 more years. The policy and 
regulation issues need to be addressed immediately to harness the 
potential of broadcasting in the new millennium for poverty 
alleviation and sustained development," says Dr Hari Om 
Srivastava, Director of All India Radio, New Delhi

BRAZIL IS 'WORKING HARD' to accelerate the IT process, focusing 
on how to shorten the social gap, says Vanda Scartezini, the 
National Secretary for Information Technology Policy, of the 
Brazilian Federal Government's ministry of science and 
technology. Email

ECONOMICS OF LINUX was a subject handled by associate editor 
Prakash Advani <> at Commsphere2000. 
Computerization, he argued, is no more considered a luxury of a 
priviledged few. It has become a necessity to every organisation. 
Each one, specially non-profits, must necessarily make the most 
out of their IT budget. Linux is one technology that helps reduce 
costs and thereby reduce the Total Cost of Ownership -- a 
significant issue in a resource-poor country like India. Savings 
also come in the form of optimum use of hardware. Linux runs 
faster than other operating systems, thereby delivering more 
performance on the same hardware. 

FROM A COMMENT ON THE INDIA-GII mailing list by Dr Arun Mehta 
This recently concluded conference at IIT Madras on affordable 
telecom solutions for developing countries was organised by the 
team around Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala, who is himself a 
pioneer in the area -- his wireless in the local loop is an 
exciting, low-cost solution for voice and Net connectivity. Other 
impressions from the conference:
(1) Wireless, including broadband, is making rapid strides. 
Samudra Haque <> talked about a very exciting, 
patent pending, low-cost solution in which he modifies an off-
the-shelf wireless LAN, and feeds its limited power to an 
efficient antenna via a low-loss cable -- and is able to cover 
impressive distances in the km range!  
(2) ISDN is dead -- in the session I chaired on low-cost access 
technologies, ISDN wasn't even mentioned once (except in my 
concluding remarks to the effect). ADSL is arriving, and should 
have already, but for some starting hiccups.  
(3) Cable modems show little sign of becoming cheaper. I wonder 
why something not much more sophisticated than an Ethernet LAN 
card should cost so much more? India has vast coverage via cable 
TV networks, and is potentially a huge market for cable modems -- 
but not at current prices.  
(4) There was talk of Net delivery via the electricity mains: I 
can understand this network being used for things like reading 
the meters, but I am sceptical about the delivery of high 
bandwidth via unshielded wires: in my view, there will be too 
much power leakage, therefore very high ambient noise, etc. Peter 
O'Neill and I disagreed strongly on this, and I would be 
interested in hearing if the technology works: are thousands of 
people anywhere connecting reliably to the Net via the 
electricity network?  
(5) Bluetooth is the next big thing in telecom -- I think that a 
combination of the Net via optic fiber combined with Bluetooth 
two-way radio for the "last mile" has the potential to seriously 
dent the profits of the big telcos in voice.  
(6) A large number of people -- maybe half of India -- will not 
be able to afford any of the above. All they can afford by way of 
a telecommunications device is the simple radio. Rather than 
simply inventing technologies and then looking for a market, 
perhaps we also need to go the other way: look to see what the 
people can afford, and see what can be delivered using those 
means. This was my contribution to the conference, along the 
lines of -- I also 
spoke of the need for technologists to take greater interest in 
policy-making in the area, and to engage in what I call 
technological activism -- making things happen in support of poor 
people getting access.  
Arun Mehta, B-69, Lajpat Nagar-I, New Delhi-110024. Phone 
6841172, 6849103  

<> writes: I have good news for this list. On 
the 26th of January, appropriately the 50th anniversary of the 
Indian republic, we had a meeting of NGOs in Mumbai (Bombay). 
These groups are now seriously planning to start a station on the 
cable networks, and are examining the feasibility. There's a note 
on the feasibility of such a radio station. Please visit The 
rationale of a cable-based radio station is discussed at  Further details 
Arun Mehta, B-69, Lajpat Nagar-I, New Delhi-110024. Phone 
6841172, 6849103
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