fiber Archives — Page 2 of 2


In North America, Eli Noam is an agenda setter and has a knack for catchy titles. His article “Let them eat cellphones” set the agenda for a session at ICTD 2012 in Atlanta. The session was, unusually for a North American event, highly international. Judith Mariscal of Mexico (and our sister organization DIRSI) chaired. Carleen Maitland of the US National Science Foundation talked about the importance of fiber for national research and education networks in Africa.
Since our research pointed us to the necessity of lowering international backhaul costs if the dream of taking broadband to all in emerging Asia was to be realized, I’ve been very interested in the ADB’s USD 9 million project to build a backhaul network connecting Nepal, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Here’s what the ADB website says about the project: The Project is aimed at enhancing the benefits of ICT and regional cooperation for inclusive growth and poverty reduction by increasing the supply of affordable broadband, skilled ICT manpower, and local content and e-applications, with a special focus on the needs of the poor. It is also expected to help SASEC countries improve their productivity and efficiency and participate more fully in the global information economy. To this end, the Project will establish (i) a SASEC regional network with fiber-optic and data interchange capacity, directly connecting the four SASEC countries; (ii) a SASEC village network expanding broadband ICT access to 110 rural communities in the SASEC countries and providing direct connections among the communities for local networking and local information sourcing; and (iii) a SASEC research and training network to build technical and business skills in developing local ICT content and […]

Wire or wireless?

Posted on July 31, 2011  /  0 Comments

One of the principal rationales for the creation of LIRNE.NET in 2000, and then LIRNEasia in 2004, was to counter the tendency to transplant policy and regulatory thinking unchanged from the developed market economies into the developing world. But that never meant that we should ignore theoretical developments and policy/regulatory innovations just because they emerged in the developed market economies. It is my firm belief that theory is universal. But the application of abstract theory to concrete circumstances must always involve deep interrogation of local context and will almost always requires adaptation and innovation.
One cannot talk about broadband these days without Australia’s massive taxpayer-funded national broadband scheme coming up. In an otherwise interesting and informed discussion of the pros and cons, Ian McAuley confuses the debate by conflating access networks, which will for the most part be wireless, and backhaul networks which will for the most part be fiber. The fourth myth is that “the Internet is becoming a wireless internet”, to quote Malcolm Turnbull, who appeared on the program with his nifty little wireless tablet computer. The claim is disingenuous, and Turnbull, of all people, knows the limits of wireless technology. Bandwidth is limited, and what works today for a few users will become the Internet equivalent of road gridlock in just a few years.
We’d be lucky to be able get wireguided communications to 10 percent of homes in the countries we work in. But we can reach 75 percent plus homes with wireless even now. So we’re all for getting fiber to neighborhoods and are quite agnostic about the access network as long as it’s wireless. In places where they got money, life is not that simple. The bills to pay for those who get the answer wrong are quite high.