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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Technology and VoIP: an aid to the way out of poverty

"…Information technology will ultimately be integrated into the mainstream of overseas development aid …today every G-7 and European Union government is reconsidering its aid strategy and they are all very receptive to increasing the use of technology not as a replacement for traditional aid but as a vital and complementary tool."

The needs of the developing countries are the same as of the developed ones, the goal to achieve is the same, the means are different.
Historical evidence within countries and cross-countries shows that improved communications leads to more than a one-time lifts in income for the poor.
Better communication can encourage isolated producers to adopt better practices and technologies to improve their productivity.
African governments must either embrace this coming reality - i.e., embrace IP - or condemn their countries to fall further and further behind the developed world.
"In the Information Age, there will be little economic development without affordable, reliable communications".
Services (voice, data, TV, etc.) will no longer depend on specific facilities (copper, radio, coax, satellite).
All services will be available over all communications facilities.
So: Regulators should allow all infrastructures to compete in an open market to offer the cheapest, highest-quality services.
But the African Governments have an interest in maximizing the value of state-owned telco: to get the most money from privatization, that means vulnerability to pressure from (privatized) telecom. Example: War on VOIP services.

VOIP is not another form of telephony

Traditional telephone service is a network-level function, VOIP is an Internet application, just like any other. To the Internet, packets are packets and VOIP follows users anywhere, over any network.

VoIP services allow a customer to:

" Use a VoIP box to connect his/her ordinary telephone into any broadband Internet connection (keeping the same phone number)
" Make very inexpensive national & international long distance
" Take the VoIP box anywhere in the world (except where illegal!), plug it in to a decent Internet connection, and make and receive calls as though at home.
" Retrieve voicemail via the web.
" Also available: Full business VoIP systems; VoIP over WiFi; computer-to-computer VoIP ; computer-to-phone VoIP

Why should Africans alone - of all people - be deprived of the least expensive, most reliable communications platform in the world?

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