Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Innovations in rural information service

Kompas (in Indonesian language) has some encouraging articles to start off the week. For one, the cost of narrowing the (urban-rural) digital divide is heading down with the new Base Transceiver Station (BTS) technology called FLASH OFDM (Fast-hopping Low-latency Access with Seamless Handover Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing).

OFDM technology operates at 450 MHz frequency, can accommodate bandwidth of up 5.3 Mbps, can reach a distance of up to 70 kilometers. Much more efficient as we'd need less BTS to connect more areas. Best of all, OFDM can be integrated with GSM networks using a mini, very portable, "nanoGSM" BTS that is of paper size and of 2.7 Kg weight. Imagine that: carrying your own BTS around that can serve both voice and data.

We don't know when this technology (currently developed by Siemens) will be available. Hopefully soon. Still, a major problem in popularizing the internet in Indonesia is the prohibitive cost of bandwidth. So all this hoopla, including the hoopla about 3G, is nonsense if bandwidth quality is still patchy and cost too high.

In another article, the daily profiled an inspiring role of community radio in helping the post-disaster (tsunami) recovery of Pangandaran coastal area, West Java. Founded to respond to the disaster aftermath last year, the radio called Suara Pangandaran Darurat Recovery Ciamis Selatan (Drecs) has been providing post-disaster information that's easily accessible by affected people. They have good contact with the meteorology and geophysics agency, and even sometimes the police and army asks them for some information.

Now the local teachers' association (PGRI) has been collaborating to provide distance education through radio waves. A show called "free talk," where community members and local leaders alike can participate, discusses local development issues, from regularization of informal traders to issues of internally displaced people.

Now, wouldn't it be cool if we can see some kind of collaboration between a technology like OFDM and community radios?

Technorati technorati tags: ,

No comments:

Post a Comment