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Rural Internet and Telephony    

Rural Internet and Telephony:


Voice telephony has been the main option for providing access to telecommunications in rural areas. Today, a wide variety of new applications such as e-mail, e-commerce, tele-education, tele-health, and tele-medicine, among others, has made access to interactive multimedia services as important as - maybe even more important than - voice connectivity alone. Since each rural district or community requires a different mix of voice, text, image, video and audio communications to best meet its needs, telecommunication network operators must be able to support the widest possible range of services and/or applications and different bandwidth levels at a reasonable cost.

The Internet (with the unavailibity of IP network in rural area) is the most widely used platform used to deliver multimedia applications in rural areas of developing countries. Satellite broadcasting has also been widely adopted in distance education programs and other videoconferencing-based consultations in remote areas. These two platforms are expected to converge as Internet broadcasting and satellite-based Internet links continue to be developed. While much negative attention in developing countries has been focused on the use of the Internet as an illegal bypass mechanism in the international traffic arena, the long-term importance of the Internet for developing countries lies in its potential to improve the domestic flow of economic and educational resources between isolated rural communities and urban centers, until such technology IP networks are provided to the rural areas.

The following are basic requirements for communications systems deployed in rural areas of developing countries:

- Implementation and operation is possible at a low cost in areas where population density is low;

- The system can be easily installed, even in remote and inaccessible locations;

- System operation and maintenance may be carried out even where qualified technical personnel are scarce;

- Implementation is possible even when basic infrastructure such as mains electricity, running water, paved road networks, etc., are absent.

An increasing number of technologies are available that can meet the above requirements at a reasonable cost to rural network operators.



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