I have mentioned on several occasions the lack of access many people have to this space. Living as you almost certainly do in a broadband world, you probably don't even realise the extent to which you have become dependent on services that other people don't even know they lack. And it's not only the third world, either - I can't remember which of the Daves it is (Warlick or Snowden) who often bemoans the cost of Internet access in New Zealand. So, if I may:
This morning our post included the annual University of Cape Town alumni news magazine (UCT News 2007). In an article by one Chris McEvoy, called "Wireless technology makes Internet affordable" the opening paragraph runs as follows:
It's a well known fact that Internet access in South Africa is among the most expensive in the world. In fact, it is said that the average American teenager has access to more bandwidth than a medium-sized business in South Africa.Sadly, the article neglects to mention who it is who says this, but it seems that someone has decided to do something about it.
An award-winning young startup called Skyrove, the brainchild of a computer engineer called Henk Kleynhans, has come up with an approach which allows providers to "install their own wifi hotspots to share the Internet with others" and then charge users per megabyte rather than the usual approach of being charged for time spent online.
In a country with unspeakably high unemployment rates, entrepeneurship is the most important source of job creation, and this company's approach appears to foster that in spades - according to the article: "anyone with IT experience can become a provider, set up as many hotspots as they want and earn ongoing income from it" using a router supplied by Skyrove which the provider connects to the ISP of their choice. Users then connect wirelessly to the Internet via the router using credits purchased online.
So there is hope! Who knows, perhaps my family will soon be able to see the pictures I send and Animoto videos I post for their benefit.