Affordable Access

Memorandum from Lloyd S. Etheredge

Publication Date
  • Communication
  • Political Science


DRAFT October 22, 1994 To: Colleagues From: Lloyd Etheredge Re: Good News (Maybe!): African Internet Connections May I ask your advice? Last year, I wrote “Somebody ought to . . . ” memos to’several foundations, suggesting they might research private data networks in Africa (e.g., connected with international tourism, banking, CNN, etc.) These, I thought, probably were run by knowledgeable people and had spare capacity. If so, I thought they might add Internet links at marginal cost, less than building a completely new infrastructure. Now, since Federico Mayor accepted the vision of the Rockefeller University working group, and completing Internet connections to Africa is a high priority, I decided to take my own advice. [I also think we have a responsibility - before turning to scarce philanthropic funds - to exploreprivate options.] Good news - based on a couple of days of calling around, here are my notes. I’m circulating this very preliminary memo privately, to ask for additional leads and contacts . . . Who should I call, that I’m not thinking of? If the interest in building private-sector Internet nodes continues to look good, perhaps a l- day meeting could get things underway. UNESCO and Internet representatives, other interested government and international organizations (e.g., USIA, NSF, World Bank, Canadian agencies with an interest in African communications) and foundations, and the potential vendors, to assess if there is a viable package (to all sites) and what needs to be added? [Note: Background discussions are important to organize such a meeting. The Internet Society’s (Larry Landweber et al.) vision and leadership have been invaluable in identifying a new technology of wireless modems. These allow Internet connections from a central downlink site, without requiring local telephone lines (often, of limited capacity and reliability). Their proposal is not widely known. But I have found that it gives - to current owners of

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