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The Internet The Almighty Buck News

Developing Nations Crippled By Broadband Costs 239

eldavojohn writes "If you live in the EU, you probably enjoy low broadband costs. If you live in Finland, it's even a legal right. If you live in the US, you probably pay a moderate cost. But if you live in the developing world, a UNCTAD report paints your picture pretty grim. Ridiculously high bandwidth costs are inhibiting developing nations from enjoying productive use of the internet — like online banking and market tools."
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Developing Nations Crippled By Broadband Costs

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  • by CraftyJack ( 1031736 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:52PM (#29848543)
    Broadband access, of course. I'd imagine that narrowly edged out security, stability, access to medical care, and clean drinking water.
    • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:00PM (#29848725) Homepage Journal
      Yeah..don't forget food and shelter too.

      "Hey, Unbooboo....I'm starving, naked and wet....but, man, I'm getting like 10 Mbit download speeds!!"

      • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

        Since when is 10 Mbit considered fast? That's pretty minimum.

        • Since when is 10 Mbit considered fast? That's pretty minimum.

          Not around here it isn't.

          I've got 5 Mbps cable Internet. The most they're offering around here is 10 Mbps. If you go with fiber, which isn't available unless you live right in the city, you can get over 10 Mbps... But the pricing is aimed more at business users. Their cheap home user plan is only 10 Mbps.

        • I get 250k, and the fastest (and most insanely expensive) ADSL plan here is 8MB.
      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @03:37PM (#29850249)
        Stories about developing nations always invite these silly comments. The fact is, economic development is always very closely tied to the ability to communicate. Always has been. And developing nations are not going to go through every obsolete technology (pony express, telegraph, manually switched copper network...) that we did; there is no economic basis for doing so. You could argue they should get a cellphone network before Internet, but these days they are one in the same.
        • by Neoprofin ( 871029 ) <neoprofinNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:05PM (#29850711)
          It's silly unless you've ever been to a developing nation (let's take India) that has an absolutely incredible cell phone network, cheap internet access, and frequently undrinkable water and large families living in homes pieced together from old sheet metal. Yes I think everyone should be able to enjoy Youtube, but I think they should be able to enjoy a stable electrical grid and drinkable water first.
          • Yes. And we should pay for their needs. All needs of everyone.

            Now excuse me while I toil some more just to pay my taxes.

          • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:41PM (#29851285)
            Wait a minute, India is the model you don't want to emulate in other countries? Their economic growth has been incredible, and competition from India strikes fear into the hearts of many slashdotters. Nothing is going to solve poverty in a huge country like India overnight, but they are on the right track.
            • by pkphilip ( 6861 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:05AM (#29855013)

              The OP has a point though.

              I am an Indian and I reside in India.

              Yes, you are right in that India's growth has been incredible - by purchasing power parity, India's GDP is the 4th largest in the world ahead of Germany, Russia, UK etc.. And even now the GDP growth rate is very strong.

              But let us look at some other statistics - though we are listed 4th in the world in GDP (by PPP), our per capita income is listed 142nd in the world. That means though India has grown so much, the majority of the population is still very poor. This goes to mean that the rich in India have gotten incredibly rich while the poor have remained very poor or have actually become poorer.

              So while we have Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Lamborghini showrooms in India, there are poor people who live just a block away who don't even have access to clean water or basic sanitation.

              This leads me to think that there are some serious problems with the Indian approach to economic growth - and so I wouldn't exactly be thrilled with other countries trying to emulate our model of growth.

              Having said that - I must say that the Indian government has done a lot over the past decade or so to address the problems faced by the poor. But it is a huge problem - and not something that can be addressed or resolved quickly.

              Coming to the whole point of this slashdot post - about whether broadband access will turn things around in developing nations - well, the whole premise behind that statement is that it is the lack of adequately advanced technology/science which is leading to poverty. I don't think that assertion is valid.

              We can access all sorts of technology in India, but that is not removing the poverty here. So the problem lies elsewhere and broadband is most likely not the solution.

      • Why do we get this every time there is something about developing countries? Not everyone in every developing country is starving. Communications are very important to development.

      • "Hey, Unbooboo....I'm starving, naked and wet....but, man, I'm getting like 10 Mbit download speeds!!"

        Yeah, same thing happened to me when I first discovered Craigslist.

        That was a crazy weekend... I love the internet!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Broadband access, of course. I'd imagine that narrowly edged out security, stability, access to medical care, and clean drinking water.

      Like many information technologies, broadband access reduces the cost and increases the usefulness of basic utilities: Online security with encryption and properly-designed systems can be faster, more tamper-proof, and has better fraud-prevention than traditional security practices (such as checks). Access to medical care is also improved by Broadband access, allowing doctors to telecommute, and rapidly research and connect with collegues who may be in remote locations. Clean drinking water, even, can be he

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm ( 69642 )

        For example... a clear glass bottle and a cotton filter can clean water from many sources because UV light can sanitize the water.

        Yes, for example, given wikipedia access, they could learn that regular window glass blocks pretty much all UV below 300 nm. You'd be better off simply placing an uncovered tray in the sunlight... Probably in a decade or two, solar powered hard-UV "flashlights" will revolutionize water purification, but just not quite yet.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet#Natural_sources_of_UV [wikipedia.org]

        This discussion is a good example of how the average user spends most of their time online discussing urban legends and porn

        • Water uncovered in plain sunlight to sterilize it seems like an excellent idea until you you realize the power of cyanobacteria and their toxins. Yes, they photosynthesize, a lot.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanobacteria [wikipedia.org]

          Several single of these in your water reservoir and your sterilization attempt will go horribly wrong. It doesn't take much to completely wreck a large lake or an entire bay area.

          • And of course you have to protect against birds defecating in your water supply. And against leaves, dust and air pollution.

            Don't leave drinking water open, please. Medieval cisterns were always covered for a damn good reason.

      • Consider an alternate solution that's a comparatively cheap: broadband via mobiles/cellphone technology is perhaps easier to implement. The backhaul costs are lower, oversubscription is a potential problem, but it's been shown that the leap from no phones to mobiles is easier than supporting landlines investments. As people can start to afford shared PCs, netbooks, etc., speeds like EDGE, UMTS, even GPRS aren't untennable. Although oversubscription can slow things down, by that point others are seeking (and

      • The solution to hunger, as I am aware of, has never been to give them a computer. It's typically been to give them food and a source to make/grow/manufacture/whatever their own food.

        Reading online about how to farm doesn't do a whole lot to a starving family in Africa. Internet access is not all that important to most starving people, in fact, I would imagine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheSync ( 5291 )

          The solution to hunger, as I am aware of, has never been to give them a computer. It's typically been to give them food and a source to make/grow/manufacture/whatever their own food.

          Or perhaps get rid of the lame government (which may mean getting rid of the lame culture that supports the lame government).

          As Amartya Sen pointed out "No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy."

          • Getting rid of the kleptocratic dictatorships goes a long way towards letting Africans solve their own problems.

            We might also quit making them live longer, or at least couple it with intensive support for birth control, because while as nice as it is not to die of sleeping sickness or malaria, its very nearly as bad to overpopulate the countryside, forcing unemployed & landless citizens to hang around shantytowns, living in poverty, getting AIDS, joining a criminal gang and/or whatever the local revolut

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              its very nearly as bad to overpopulate the countryside, forcing unemployed & landless citizens to hang around shantytowns, living in poverty, getting AIDS, joining a criminal gang and/or whatever the local revolutionary militia is this month.

              Africa has a smaller population than Europe, and a larger land area than Europe.

              In other words, it's not overpopulated by a long way.

              The poverty in Africa has many causes, mostly to do with what passes for government in much of Africa. But overpopulation isn't th

      • If UV light is good for drinking water, then why does the CDC recommend against making sun tea? Mmmmm, Alcaligenes viscolactis.

      • No, it doesn't.

        Dialup works just fine for accessing bank site, or ... if they're properly coded.

      • Case in point [bbc.co.uk]
    • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:26PM (#29849173)

      Broadband access, of course. I'd imagine that narrowly edged out security, stability, access to medical care, and clean drinking water.

      Strangely enough, Somalia is touted [wikipedia.org] to have one of the most advanced telecommunications industry in Africa.

      Apparently when there is no corrupt government (or any government worth mentioning) or regulatory body (FCC) then people just put up their own cell phone towers and wireless networks with little regard to the previous system.

      Of course during the anarchy most of the copper why was torn down and sold as scrap by looters so wireless was the only alternative and many of the warlords and pirates were keen on having cell phone access to speak with people internationally so they had some high bankroll early adopters.

      That said... Between the angry warlords and Islamic militias... I wouldn't move there for the wireless and broad band systems.

      • many of the warlords and pirates were keen on having cell phone access to speak with people internationally so they had some high bankroll early adopters.
        warlords are a form of government right?

        What I wonder is how do they handle backhaul between cities and out of the country? do they push everything over sat? do they have armed gaurds along thier cable runs? Have the warlords managed to stablise things enough to stop cables getting looted?

        Apparently when there is no corrupt government (or any government wo

        • Plain old microwave relays? Intermeshed cells?

          And they probably have armed guards around their cell towers, with them getting a large cut of the telco margins.

          And they keep their channels distant and well-separated because if they didn't, some hundred skinnies came riding by with their technicals, dispatching the offending network operators.

    • I'm pretty sure the capital city of Burkina Faso (you ARE aware of that country, right?) largely lacks paved roads [google.com] for reasons other than lack of broadband internet.

      Yes, the fast flow of free/cheap/vast information is helpful. Remember: it's a luxury, not a human right.

    • It depends on what aspect of development you refer to. This report obviously refers to the kind of development the middle classes of countries such as India, China and Brazil are looking at. They've come out of poverty, have food, safe water, housing and security. They are literate (both technically and otherwise), mostly college educated and now need opportunities to engage the international marketplace in a more meaningful manner as well as the infrastructure to support access to a more democratized versi
    • by dissy ( 172727 )

      Broadband access, of course. I'd imagine that narrowly edged out security, stability, access to medical care, and clean drinking water.

      So once you have security, stability, access to medicine, and clean drinking water (as well as housing, plentiful food, and your specific transportation needs met), by your logic you should be denied internet access purely due to the country you live in?

      Or do you just mean the entire country you live in is required to have all of those things before anyone can have broadband?

      Just curious is all

    • Why can't we have all of that?

      Development is not homogeneous. Some people may still be subsistence farmers with little access to clean water. 150 miles away, someone in a city may have running water, electricity and an office job. But her business is hampered by astronomical communication costs. Her business profits provide tax revenue to the government. If tax revenues go up, the government can do things like improve the roads to the farmer's town so he can get more crops to market and not be a subsist

    • There are several comments along these lines, but TFA has a point. Broadband access means access to business opportunities and information, both essential to get a developing nation out of the hole they're in. Forget universal access, if even a fraction of the population can get broadband at decent prices it'll have a huge knock-on effect.

      Also, the parent suggests everyone in developing nations lives without security, stability, access to medical care, and clean drinking water, which is simply not true. The

  • by The Grim Reefer2 ( 1195989 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:52PM (#29848551)

    Pigeon net. [bbc.co.uk] Apparently a carrier pigeon is faster as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I wouldn't really call it faster for anything mentioned in TFS because of the fact that while you can get a lot of data really fast via pigeon there is terrible latency.
      • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

        Better stick with turn-based games then!

      • I wouldn't really call it faster for anything mentioned in TFS because of the fact that while you can get a lot of data really fast via pigeon there is terrible latency.

        That's nothing compared to the packet loss. Ever get this error with ethernet over copper or fiber?


    • by chaim79 ( 898507 )

      And on the plus side the use of Pigeon.net can assist with starvation issues as well!

  • Heres the thing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:52PM (#29848553)
    Here is the thing, in developing and third-world nations the infrastructure simply isn't there. Most of the time their countries are located in hostile terrain, either they are isolated by mountains, the sea, have extreme climates, have a corrupt government that doesn't want to help its people, or the people simply live in remote areas. Just look at rural America, there are lots of places where the best you can get is cell phone internet speeds, and a lot of these people live just a mile or two outside of a town. Think of how bigger of a challenge this is where you have people who live many miles from any major town, are dirt poor, and you have to cross hostile terrain. Thats how its like in most of these countries.
    • by debrain ( 29228 )

      Incidental to your post, one theme of Jeffrey Sach's book "The End of Poverty" is that the lack of infrastructure in the developing and especially the subsistent populations of the world is in no small part a result of the lack of population density (i.e. rurality). I think your post accords with this conclusion.

      • There's lots of dirt-poor people in very densely crowded cities, however. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world, for instance, and it's not exactly known as a paradise. And there's lots of people in the USA who live in rural places, and are quite well off, even if they have to get a lot of goods shipped to them by Fedex and UPS.

    • Latin America is majority urban, and most people in rural areas still are relatively close to cities. The remote areas, such as the Amazon, have the lowest population density. Your statement just isn't true, at least in that region.

      • by TheSync ( 5291 )

        Info point, my uncle and cousins in El Salvador (in the capital, San Salvador) all have DSL...if you want a job in Central America, check out my cousin's company: Tecoloco [tecoloco.com].

    • by Korin43 ( 881732 )
      I read a story a while ago about how copper is worth enough that telephone companies had their cables stolen all the time. The cost of constantly replacing your infrastructure could also affect costs..
  • by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:53PM (#29848579)
    is online banking.
    • Depends on your precise definition of "developing" is. Once you've got the basic stuff covered, the massive upfront cost of telecom infrastructure can create a serious economic stall when you reach the point where you need it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Once you've got the basic stuff covered

        Let's let them get that covered first, then, shall we? Can you give me an example of a "developing nation" that has the basics covered adequately?

        I think it's kinda funny that the wikipedia entry mentions that many "developing" countries don't like the term "developing nation" because it implies they aren't "developed." Hmmm. I wonder who in the country doesn't like that - the poor that are starving to death, or the rich that seemingly are keeping the country poor by their greed and careless attitude tow

    • by sorak ( 246725 )

      is online banking.

      This is an issue that affects everyone. My bank is running a promotion. I get free checking if I pay my Nigerian associates using their online "automatic bill pay" option. But, alas, the royal family is using dial-up, and I have to send my checks by USPS.

    • Came to say this exact thing. Some countries look like they are trying to jump too far ahead while they don't even have the basics covered. If you can't reliably deliver food to your people or provide basic health and medical services the last frickin' thing you and they need is internet access.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tabrnaker ( 741668 )
        um, aren't there still poor people who don't get food or basic medical services in 'developed' nations like the USA? One thing that all nations have in common is that if you have the money, you'll have access to those luxuries. Though i do have to say that in canada you can get food and medical services for free, hell in vancouver you can get your junk for free.
        • How many people starved to death last year in the USA? Compare that to the number of people that starved to death in Swaziland (one of the countries from the article).

          What do you think is more important to the people of Swaziland? A stable and reliable agricultural system or 10 cents/minute cell phone plans?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ap7 ( 963070 )

      Being dismissive is easy. But online banking improves productivity, especially in rural areas where banks cannot afford to set up branches to serve a few customers. Online banking also eliminates the need to go to the bank. Simply visit the cybercafe and conduct transactions. It is not the luxury that people make it out to be, once they realize how useful it can be.

      It is the same with cellphones - they were a luxury earlier. But now, they are necessities in rural areas too. Run a search for Reuters Market L

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @01:57PM (#29848679)

    ...You know why? Because for most developing nations, entire major cities are unplanned (read unmapped).

    All they do when one is looking for directions is to say something to the effect..."Just near that big tower...behind the "Kofeko" market.

    And I know because I am originally from one of those developing nations. The concept of an address does not exist. In fact, I had to think hard and ask my family what I should put on the visa application forms as an address before coming to these United States.

    Nuff said.

    • You can be a first-world country and do this too though - Ireland, one of three countries in the world not to have postcodes. It makes some online shopping forms a pain though if the postcode field is hard-coded. And note, best to put IRL in these, as an unfortunate incident of a delivery arriving months late with a lot of unusual stickers/postmarks showed that putting NA (for non-applicable) may get your delivery sent via Namibia.

      On the other hand, Ireland has some of the worst broadband coverage/speeds in

  • When I first started using AOL 18 years and 1 month ago, it was $8 / hour in business hours, plus long distance charges --- $4 during non-business hours after the first free 5 or 10 hours each month (and one paid the long distance charges regardless).

    Granted, most people were in a metropolitan area w/ a local connect #, but still, bills could easily get into the hundreds of dollars per month.

    Once the infrastructure is built and paid for, costs can come down, but one needs the early adopters to pay to run th

    • Actually, that was for the fools on AOL, etc. Others of us working in the industry back in the 80's, had "free" connections. Of course, it was to either a university, OR to a high tech company. And when I started, I could not get on the speedy modems of 300, or even the 110. I was restricted to 75 baud. Besides the modem for a 300 was over 1K, which back then WAS a lot of money.
  • If I lived in what we euphemistically called a 'developing nation' would I not be more concerned with things like food for my family and adequate housing in my community and less concerned with things like connecting to my bank via the web or updating my Facebook status? I can think of no absolute basic (i.e. food, water, shelter) that is, as yet, a broadband-only option.
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      would I not be more concerned with things like food for my family

      http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=farming# [google.com]
      (of course, if they search for "gold farming" instead of just farming that is an entirely different third world industry)

      Google for "online seeds", you get 57 million results, some fraction of which are online seed sellers. Oddly enough on my first page several results are for Cannabis seed sellers, I don't know if that is normal for everyone, or Google customizing my internet experience for me...

  • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:08PM (#29848907) Homepage Journal
    This is news? Basic transport is a more important aspect to everyday life in these places. They are not going to have well-planned highway systems or electrical grids. And you want broadband? Build roads, water pipelines, sewer systems and power lines first. Then you can focus on broadband.
    • Just a minor point, but wouldn't it be better in the long term to put in data lines (fiber or copper) at the same time as the other utilities? If you're putting in water and sewage pipes or hanging power lines, shouldn't it cost nearly nothing extra to also install a couple fiber lines while you're already there?
  • At least here in Uruguay costs for housing content are extremely high compared with the developed world. I remember last decade when the "standard" connection for 64kbps output was like US$2k. And things didnt improved a lot in the following years. This year finally you could get an affordable (as in US$200/mo) to get a fixed IP (adsl) with 4M/512K connection, but other kinds of (non-adsl) connections could be far more expensive.

    And if that is the situation here, don't want to think how bad is in other less
  • That'd be why telecos are gearing up for big business including cellular banking in Africa http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0826/p07s01-woaf.html [csmonitor.com].
  • by quietwalker ( 969769 ) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Friday October 23, 2009 @02:28PM (#29849191)

    I write software for banks for a living. Web, mobile, voice, atm, teller, whatever. As far as my industry has indicated, these developing nations rely on cell phones for the majority of their banking, and anyone with enough money to care about banking will likely use a cell phone for that purpose - at least for common daily usage. There are people out there who have to rely on a hand-crank generator or pay a vendor to charge their phone - they have no access to electricity, but you'll note, they STILL have a cell phone.

    Even in developing nations, cell phones are incredibly pervasive.

  • Less than half the population of the planet has ready access to electricity, phones, adequate nutrition, clean water, and health care. That's due to developing nations having far more inadequacies per capita than developed.

    You're not wrong as in incorrect, you're wrong as in assuming your priorities matter to the people in those countries, because they can't eat bandwidth.

  • I think there is some confusion between "broadband" and "internet access".

    Step one is Internet Access, 56k modem or GSM/EDGE speeds, which allow you to do 99% of the useful thinks you can do on the web (Youtube and gaming are NOT in that category of useful things, online banking, forums, websites, email, IM are)

    Step two, broadband, I see as more of a luxury / convenience thing.

    To me, the real cut off should be NOT between broadband vs narrow-band, but between permanent connection + unmetered access vs dial

    • To me, the real cut off should be NOT between broadband vs narrow-band, but between permanent connection + unmetered access vs dial-up + pay for use.

      True that, but we can't really make that point when plenty of first-world ISPs would love to roll back the clock to hourly-use and bandwidth-use rate systems.

      (Er, acknowledgment given to all the folks noting the numerous more important infrastructure concerns faced by developing nations... of course, that was always my critique of OLPC, but nobody cared then...)

    • It probably costs more to pull the copper wire for telephone lines compared to fiber optics. Copper WILL be stolen and sold to get money for food, fiber is kind of pointless to steal as no recycle center will pay for it.

      You could literally pull fiber to a town neighborhood and from there you could just use regular utp cable and second / third hand utp switches or hubs. It will be probably cheaper compared to modems.

  • Having spent several years living in Ecuador, I can say that broadband access does matter. Just because other things also matter, such as water, food, roads, and whatnot, doesn't mean that one of the key infrastructural elements of communication and creativity in the world today is unimportant. Yes, I believe that the top priorities must be health care and education, since they are the basis of what can be provided to help people improve their lives, but other infrastructural issues are important, and indee

    • To expand a bit, the way capitalism is supposed to work involves equal access to information and markets. Currently there is extreme inequality, which is why broadband access is so expensive, and that expense makes access to information and market even more unequal in today's wired world.

  • You haven't even found the real cause! No, cost is no cause. It's a symptom. The real cause is what you get, when you trace it all the way back, until there is no way of tracing it back any further.

    I bet $100, that you will come out at the actions of the WTO. (Notoriously known for keeping levels artificially out of balance. At the profit of those, who are the most powerful in the WTO. You know who.)

    Of course, in the time between searching for that cause, you can look for options that circumvent the problem

  • But if you live in the developing world, a UNCTAD report paints your picture pretty grim. Ridiculously high bandwidth costs are inhibiting developing nations from enjoying productive use of the internet — like online banking and market tools."

    I don't want to sound like a meanie, but by definition, that is a developing nation. We all had to start somewhere and develop into what we are today.

    Someone needs to stop thinking broadband is a right. Its not. TV isn't. Radio isn't. You aren't born with a ri
  • ... even have enough money and a computer to even be able to do online banking? I imagine they're far more interested in having potable water, something to eat, and a roof over their heads before they even think about needing a computer or a broadband connection.

    Geez. The folks that come up with these studies need to get out a little more.

  • In Thailand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <orionblastar.gmail@com> on Friday October 23, 2009 @03:23PM (#29850039) Homepage Journal

    the phone and stringing wire and cable costs more because of the climate, the ground tends to flood a lot and won't hold the poles, and the economy is so bad that the technology costs a lot.

    My Thai in-laws had ISDN 128K BPS speed but paid a lot for it, and only had the USB interface to it. I wondered why they didn't have DSL or Cable modems, but it seems ISDN is cheaper and uses the ordinary phone lines.

    Most Thai people have cell phones because the land near them won't take on ordinary phone lines and cell phones are cheaper than the land based phone. But something like an iPhone or Blackberry costs them like $900USD or almost 30,000 Thai Bhat. Not because they are being price gouged, but because the economy is so bad that technology costs more there. The cost of computers, game consoles, cell phones, DVD players, TV sets, etc are all high because of that. But food and clothes are cheap because they are not technology based and produced by native farms and companies. The technology made by native companies is usually cheaper than technology from foreign companies, but the iPhone, Blackberry, etc are all foreign made.

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      So what you're saying is that imported goods are expensive, just like they were in other countries around the world prior to globalization? I think the US and some parts of Europe are the only places where imported goods cost less than locally produced products. I know from a recent trip to the grocery store that I pay about a 50% premium on locally made (Texas) beer, pasta and bread.

  • Why don't we count ourselves as crippled by broadband costs?

    We are, compared to some of the developed nations of the world.

  • Well when corporations and governments are corrupt, the best way to go is obviously to install (wireless) mesh networking equipment. Essentially you need a few people who can install the alternative firmware onto cheap wireless routers and set an IP-Address. The rest of the people now just need to put those routers in convenient places. As a bonus feature, you could add simple single chip serial terminals into the case and make cheap and tiny internet terminals.

  • What exactly does "ridiculously high" mean? Is there a definition, or is it more of "I know it, when I see it" [breitbart.com] kind of thing?

    And what is there to do, if, indeed, the costs (rather than the deplorable thirst for profit) make something too expensive to buy?

    Does United States get to publish a "study" describing establishing a base on the Moon as "ridiculously expensive"? Can we then shame the rest of humanity into paying for it?

  • "are inhibiting developing nations from enjoying productive use of the internet -- like online banking and market tools."

    There are different levels of development, you know. Do you really think that someone who is starving and has no idea what a computer is for (apart from the kids who play starcraft in internet cafes) needs online banking? What, are those banks starting to accept cows, goats and chickens as deposits? Does a bank really cares about those whole $50 the village managed to save last year? You

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @03:53PM (#29850517) Journal

    Just get rid of unnecessary graphics on their webpages and they don't really need "full" broadband. Most of the stuff moving over the web is useless eye-candy or gimmicky JavaScript junk. To do basic stuff requires very little bandwidth (by today's standards) if they simply design web-pages right.

    True, international commerce-related info may still be bloated. I've been pondering the idea of a graphics-off-friendly browser addon. Most pages can be browsed with the graphics off if one could choose which graphics to keep activated, such as "image" buttons. Once you mark a page appropriately, then it either only loads those graphics you previously selected as necessary (usually for navigation), or gets them from cache.

  • While America circles the bowl, blowing trillions on saving failed banks and failed wars, the African continent has nowhere to go but up. A 2% per year increase in GDP is looking mighty fine compared to Western nations backsliding into tent cities and soup kitchens.
  • Who ever knew that Australia was a developing country! Broadband costs here are killer. Oh and we're slipping backwards when it comes to trasnport, health care, employment and education.

  • by PeanutButterBreath ( 1224570 ) on Friday October 23, 2009 @04:55PM (#29851513)

    The point here isn't the irony of delivering broadband to lost pygmy tribes with no indoor plumbing.

    Hasn't anyone noticed that to use the internet efficiently for even mundane tasks it requires more and more processing power and bandwith? I wouldn't pay for broadband either, since I rarely use the web for video, gaming or large image downloads -- I could easily get by with dial-up and my PowerBook G4. Heck, I was using a circa 1998 Thinkpad two years ago. But both machines became an increasing hassle to use even for basic browsing of primarily text sites due to the ton of gimmicky overhead in the form of useless bells and whistles and un-optimized content.

    I agree that people in the 3rd world probably have larger priorities than high-speed internet. But certainly the internet is a tool that they could benefit from, and the sad fact of the matter is that without high-speed, an increasing portion of the internet is functionally inaccessible. That is a legitimately dire state of affairs, IMO.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann