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