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Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during
Fourth Meeting of the IGF, in Sharm El Sheikh. Although it is largely accurate,
in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or
transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at
the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
17 November 2009
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
>>AMR BADAWI: Okay. Good morning. I'd like to announce the start of the
access session today, and I'll be chairing the session. I'm Dr. Amr Badawi,
executive president of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority in
Egypt -- i.e., the telecom regulator here -- and I'm pleased to have an
excellent set of panelists today, and our moderator will be Dr. Hopeton Dunn,
the director of the Caribbean program, Telecommunications Policy and Technology
Management in Mona School of Business, University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
Mr. Dunn. Dr. Dunn.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you. And good afternoon, everyone. Can I ask you to
take your seats as we are about to proceed with this panel which follows the
previous one dealing with issues of diversity and access.
This particular panel will be dealing with matters relating to access, and I
just wanted to start the process by making a few remarks of my own, and then to
introduce the panel, and thereafter to take the opportunity to respond to your
questions as they come forward.
So for starters, let me thank you, Chairman, and welcome the participants and
the panel to this session on issues of access.
This matter of access has been among the matters of highest priority, right
throughout the entire WSIS process. In fact, it's a process that I participated
in and followed, and within the documentation out of the Tunis phase, we had
very many and very strong declarations in favor of supporting access on a global
For example, in the Tunis declaration, it mentioned that we are resolute to
empower the poor, particularly those living in remote, rural, and marginalized
urban communities, to access information, and to use ICTs as a tool to support
their efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.
When we speak of access, we are speaking not only about the physical ability to
connect with a network, but we are talking about a great range of additional
means by which access is to be attained.
We are talking, colleagues, about financial access, the ability of people to
afford the content, to afford the connectivity.
We are talking about the essential nature of literacy to access, including
information literacy, all the cognitive skills associated with being able to use
We are talking about access to relevant content. We are talking about access
to institutional support, including political access and a voice. We are
talking, as we did in the previous session, also about linguistic access and
access by the disabled.
So these considerations are the ones that help to frame our discussion today,
and we are fortunate to have a very engaged and outstanding panel of presenters,
and I would like to introduce them one by one, so that as their names are
called, we will have a short presentation from them, giving us an opportunity to
then engage in the dialogue which we expect thereafter.
Our first presenter is Mr. Ben Akoh. He is program manager, Open Society
Institute, based in West Africa. I'd ask Ben now to make his presentation.
>>BEN AKOH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's an opportunity to be here
and talk about critical access-related issues.
I think global debates on access have moved from just infrastructure-based
arguments that we've with always had to issues of policy, regulation, and
rights. Not like infrastructure is not important, but infrastructure such as
undersea cables have finally begun to arrive to underserved coastal areas.
There has been increased mobile phone proliferation, which have characterized
most of the landscape in our countries. We've seen previously where copper
cables didn't exist that mobile phones have been able to take the spaces and
enable communications. The tele-densities in most of our countries, especially
rural areas, have also increased and continue to increase.
Even with these advancements in infrastructure, there remain certain
challenges, and some of those challenges include the fact that landlocked
countries still continue to struggle to access coastal cable infrastructure.
Broadband remains a major challenge, still.
Either traditional broadband as it is or broadband on the mobile phones as we
are hoping would begin to happen.
The rights to a landing station continue to pose problems to cable companies
that are seeking to land infrastructure as they pass by coastal cities.
The cost of making phone calls and sending of simple messages as SMS messages
still remain -- still results in approximately 50% of disposable incomes of most
Africans or most underserved people. In literal terms what that means is it's a
sizeable fraction of a day's wage of a Rwandan farmer. The difference between
the current state of access and the future progressive opportunity for all
states, which is the theme of this conference, remains with three critical and
strategic moves, and those are: Policy issues, regulation, and rights.
Appropriate steps have to be taken to address these three issues, and how we
deal with them will determine what progress will be made in the coming years.
The access debate has moved, like I said, from infrastructure to these issues.
And these issues stretch around several things which I will focus. But I will
focus specifically on one of them, which is spectrum. And I feel that spectrum
is the lifeblood of infrastructure, of telecommunications, of access eventually.
Until these issues are handled appropriately, and effectively, within the
spectrum space, we will not have efficient, effective, and optimal use of the
infrastructure, so basically you will have all of this infrastructure with all
the connectivity coming in, but if you do not have the language to plug into
them, to enhance or enable connectivity, we would not be able to utilize them
effectively. So we must begin to see spectrum and its management as a major and
a fundamental component of access.
But I'll talk about it from three key perspectives.
First of all, is reclaiming unused spectrum space. I don't think that up until
now, there has been a move -- an initiative to make sure that we reclaim the
spaces that may be available within the spectrum bands and the way they have
been managed so far. I think it's important that, first of all, we begin to see
-- make moves, specific moves, in terms of reclaiming such spaces and I'll make
a couple comments around those.
Secondly, I think it's important to effectively leverage the benefits of
digital dividends. There is a switchover that would likely come in the future
and how do we leverage the dividends that will come from that. And thirdly,
specific advocacy and policy recommendations need to be made in terms of how
this is handled.
Now, talking about the reclaimed unused spaces, I think one of the things that
we need to begin to look at is managing spillovers and maybe guard bands.
Spillovers are out-of-band emissions that happen within a defined frequency, so
in a spectrum space, for instance, if you cross from one country to another,
there is a momentary period where the signal from one country tends to interfere
with, you know, the signal within another border space. That is a spillover.
And now there's a lot of infrastructure, there's a lot of cost that is put into
managing that sort of regulatory issue.
It's about time we begin to look at ways by which we can allow perhaps such
spillover to happen and find better ways of managing cross-border spectrum or
spectrum harmonization, so to speak.
Guard bands, on the other hand, are free -- are bands that have been kept by --
within a spectrum space to allow for -- or rather to accommodate interference by
alternate bands and it's important with the new advances in technology, with the
new ways by which transmission and receiving devices can connect and negotiate
how to connect with themselves, it's important that we find ways of reclaiming
those guard band spaces. Eventually they will make more spaces available within
the spectrum space.
And thirdly, digital dividends. The benefits of digital migration is digital
dividends and stakeholders have claimed that it will lead to more available
spectrum spaces. Further, through innovation and compression, these spaces will
be optimized, resulting in more available spaces. Effective technology such as
agile or software defined radios will encourage further innovation and better
and efficient utilization of this available spectrum. The bottom line is that
there will be more spaces available for more applications, but this can only be
true if, and only, when specific measures and steps have been taken to
effectively and collaboratively plan the potential spaces that will result from
digital migration or switchover.
Ultimately, the spectrum management mechanisms and methodologies, policies, and
regulations of the past may not be sufficient for these future spaces. New
mechanisms are required as the factors have changed somewhat. Basically, it's a
specific case of pouring new wine into new skins. So what proposals do we have?
That these issues of policies on access -- that is, spectrum and infrastructure
-- should be looked at, one, as a rights-based issue. Access to spectrum should
and must be couched under themes such as access to information or even freedom
of expression. Certain policy measures on cross-border spectrum needs to
address public good, rural development, and underserved areas. More so, as
reclaimed spectrum bands can and should be reserved and specifically targeted to
address broadband deployment of underserved areas, for instance.
Secondly, we should begin to see this as a social responsibility issue. Social
responsibility of current spectrum administrators or regimes to their citizens,
requiring that provisions are made to incentivize service providers who will
utilize these reclaimed spaces and available spaces for broadband rural
I'll leave those few remarks and hopefully during the interaction --
interactivity of the session, during the session, we will be able to talk some
more about some of these issues. Thank you very much.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you very much, Ben. Those are critical issues as part
of the consideration of access. In the Caribbean, where I'm from, and certainly
in Jamaica, where I serve as chairman of the broadcasting commission, we are
concerned about the switchover from analog to digital creating more
opportunities for people in this particular digital age. So thank you.
Our next speaker is Pierre Dandjinou, specialist and consultant in ICTs and
e-government working at and being CEO of Strategic Consulting Group in Senegal
and Benin. Pierre?
>>PIERRE DANDJINOU: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
And I'm honored to be here and to be actually presenting this, and I will be
talking on mobile broadband, and definitely a question that was put to me was,
is the whole hype around mobile broadband justified? Especially in regions such
So what I'm going to do is maybe take a much more holistic approach. Ben
alluded to this better management issue. I'll try to actually deal with it in
-- well, coming from the developing world having, you know, assisted different
countries in Africa to develop their own strategies, what they call
e-strategies, and having observed that, most of those strategies were actually
shelved and were not actually implemented, sometimes for lack of appropriate
funding, also for lack of realistic agenda. It seems to me that we need to have
a switch in the -- what I will call the paradigm, connectivity paradigm of
today. So I will try to kind of go through the technology and a few
applications that exist, the issues that are there, and also some of the way
forward, especially for developing countries.
Before I move to that, I would also like to recall what Mr. Subramanian, vice
chairman of Tata Consultancy Services was saying at the opening ceremony.
You'll remember his Gopal story, a poor Indian farmer, and the potential that
access to information held there for him. And for him, it was about, you know,
death or life.
I think if we consider the Gopal story, and if you come down to what we are
observing, there are many studies there, especially from OECD, to name a few,
that really indicates that access to information and communication technology
has a direct and measurable impact on social and economic development.
Therefore, if you also consider the numbers that we are having today -- and we
do have more mobile telephone users in Africa than Internet users, for instance
-- that may be the paradigm to switch to that one, that we should really be
talking more on national backbones, but not necessarily -- or not only the fiber
line, but also the mobile.
And for that, in fact, the idea is that it will open up more opportunities.
We are talking about social economic development, but it is also about
education and health care as well as social inclusion.
But basically what is broadband technology? Of course it is the name that is
given to describe the step of wireless high-speed Internet access through a
portable modem, telephone, other device. And it is interesting to know that the
technology is still there today. Because various network standards may be used,
such as GPRS, 3G, Wi-Max, LGE, and ASPA. And also the good news is that the
business has come up with this sort of common platform, which is now known as
the 3GPP which is the Global Third Generation Partnership Project. So this
family of standards actually provide the technology, and actually 90% of the
world's mobile subscribers now are using this today.
Now, how about mobile broadband development and adoption? We notice that
especially developed countries actually have already set up their own strategies
for developing this mobile broadband. And in the U.K., for instance, since
October 2008, the aim is to have 100% broadband coverage, with a minimum speed
of two megabytes.
European Union also have taken a few steps, and recently they have outlined the
Internet innovation strategies which encompasses, of course, the right to the
Internet, right of the users on the Internet, but also the right to broadband.
And actually, as Ben was saying, one of the features they are having there is
to use those airwave that will be liberated to actually gear them toward
broadband access to a larger number.
Now, how about Africa is the mobile broadband? Obviously, it was quite
surprising to note that most purpose, most thing we are reading today are saying
that Africa and the Mid East are going to be where it is going to really happen.
And just because those places, of course, have been sort of kept away from the
Internet access for so many years. But also that the mobile, the mobile uptake
is so phenomenon that this is definitely where we are going to have the most
modern users of this mobile broadband technology.
And figures are there to show that, well, from the current 1 billion that we
are having on this mobile telephony in those areas, Africa and Mid East, we will
have something to -- we go up to something like 6 billion in the next two years.
Of course, cable already in Africa. And we are talking about ten of them that
are trying to wire the continent. But it is about international gateways.
It's quite interesting also to note that as you travel in places like
Mauritania, Senegal, Kenya, you will also have access to this mobile telephony
through the CDMAs that are being laid out all over the places.
So definitely we notice that 2.5 million, of course, mobile broadband users,
especially on ASPA today in Africa, but it is estimated that that number is
really going to be newspaper the coming two years.
Places like Rwanda already actually are using part of this technology,
especially for e-health promotion.
Now, this mobile broadband technology come with, I'll say, a few issues. And I
think that what's important now, is if we talk about access and if you are
serious about opening up opportunities to remote areas or rural areas, for
instance, we then need to consider those seriously.
Of course the issues actually get into market structure. Meaning what type of
model are we going to use here in Africa or developing worlds, per se? Certain
that the single subscription equals single customer model that we have in
developed countries will not be appropriate in Africa, but that we can still
The other prerequisite, of course, is the whole spectrum challenge, how we do
free the spectrum and how we do manage it. And Ben commented on it and I will
not come back on that.
But there is a fundamental role for government and regulators. And I will say
that they need to facilitate and adapt. And how do you do that?
If you go through the way liberalization of telecoms has been done, especially
in the places you are talking about -- you know, Africa, for instance -- most
people will say that has not been a success. For many reasons, actually. And
of course I will say the importance of having the right license fee structure is
In many places, the aim was to -- it was very expensive, you know, to buy
licenses, highly in other places it was just a simple administrative charge.
In fact, in the long run now you have to consider what you are gaining. So we
are calling for the importance of revisiting the right to license in the
The other thing is the taxation that we have, which is actually holding back
deployment in most places.
Universal access from -- somebody was saying, well, we just need to suppress
them the way they are today. Because there is money there. Nobody is really
using them the way it should be used. So definitely there is a way to getting
this access for larger number.
Last, but not least, is the power issue. I'm not going to go into details for
that, but operators of mobile in Africa, for instance, know that this energy
from a big, you know, part of the expense.
The chair is actually urging me to a conclusion.
I am just say that, will, that as we observe the situation today, we consider
the technology exists. We can also say that the needs also are there. And the
applications also are possible and potential.
So the issues we need to solve. But we cannot solve the issues if we don't
have what I will call sort of a holistic approach.
So the message is going to be for government and regulators, for instance, and
all stakeholders to come up with what we might call insurable mobile broadband
strategies or policies that really include the following. Technology
neutrality, security and private issues, transparency issues, especially in
managing the spectrum, tax policies, what I will call renovated universal
service funds, national and local content development issues, competition, and
finally the energy issue.
And with that, Mr. Chair, I would like to enter my remarks. And of course wait
for any questions to elaborate on the issues.
Thank you very much.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you. Thank you Mr. Dandjinou.
Let's give him a round of applause.
If the next billion are to come mainly from the global south, then what are the
policies that are at play in the global south and the global north in relation
to these matters.
Our next speaker is Mr. Mohamed El Nawawy, vice president of telecom Egypt.
And he will share with us some perspectives from the Egyptian context.
>>MOHAMED EL NAWAWY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
So our presentation is addressing access, and specifically infrastructure and
submarine capable infrastructure, to be specific.
Egypt is in the cross-section connecting the Asia to Europe and has been
playing a predominant role in connecting all the infrastructure that goes from
Asia to Europe over the last few years. With the boom that is happening in
Asia, many more projects are coming up, and this connectivity role is becoming
even more important.
To date, nearly 300 gigs of traffic are going on these routes, which represents
the fact that there is a modest amount of infrastructure in place. But if we
look at how this graph is growing, we can see that over the next ten years, we
are expecting to reach a good nine terabits of data. Just to put things in
perspective, nine terabits of data is approximately two and a half times what is
going over the Atlantic right now.
Just a quick survey of what's out there. Certainly SMW3 and SMW4,
substantially important consortium systems that have existed for some time.
Perhaps SMW4 is the first system that was designed with the Internet in mind.
You see it is shorter than SMW3, which was considered to be an innovation at its
time, reaching very different Asia-Pacific, going into the strait around the
Iberian Peninsula and reaching Atlantic Europe. A very important system, but a
very modest, small system, not really ready to handle Internet traffic.
Although it has played a very important role in some of the adventures we had in
Newer systems are also coming up. IMEWE and EIG are both consortium systems.
They are similar to SMW4, shorter in path, starting in India, ending somewhere
in Europe, although EIG followed the SMW3 path connecting to Atlantic Europe.
And both are Internet ready, very dense systems with about 3.8 terabit
capability. This is another look at private systems. So for example, flag very
famous system that starts deep in Asia-Pacific, continues all the way to
Atlantic Europe and all of these systems in common they have the fact that they
pass through Egypt.
Another system that is also a private system is falcon, which gives great
arraign bean peninsula and Arabian gulf coverage, and meets needs of south
Europe and Suez about 300 kilometers from here.
Another system coming up is ten. Ten has the design capacity to be the first
system in the world that is ten terabit capable. And it's, again, designed
predominantly for IP transit. It connects Egypt to Europe, and is the first of
a new breed of cables which is acting more like a conduit for traffic and for
With the cable cuts that happened in 2008, we started looking at diversity in a
more granular way. So rather than just look at the physical diversity across
Egypt and the physical diversity across Mediterranean, we are also looking at
how we access Europe. And certainly accessing Europe from the east is becoming
more important, and especially after what happened in December 2008 where nearly
six cables were cut in the northeastern part of the Mediterranean.
An important development which I share with you with great enthusiasm today, as
my colleague Mr. Akoh was mentioning about coastal states in the east coast of
Africa not having access to fiber, I am excited personally as a person who
worked in the Internet field for a long time to see the first fiber system
coming out of South Africa extending east to the north, connecting to Egypt in
the south, dropping in about eight different coastal states, and providing the
first fiber to the longest coastline in the world, which is the Africa
Egypt today stands today to be connected with dive fiber connectivity to
approximately 60 countries in the world or a little bit more.
Again, talking again about infrastructure, we take diversity very seriously,
and when we look at diversity in a granular way and we look at what's happening
in the Mediterranean, we divide things in the Mediterranean in a simple way. Is
it above Malta or below Malta, north or south of Malta. As you can see, Malta
has a very unique position and is very close to the Sicilian strait which is a
very narrow passage of international water between Tunis and Sicily, and there
is a lot of cables going there. And this is why accessing Europe also through
Greece, accessing Europe also through Turkey, further to the east, is becoming a
very important addition. Important enough that to make sure what happened in
December 2008 is not repeated again.
This is another slide that is also showing the issue of the Malta diversity and
the importance of rearranging the systems that go through this particular point.
Again, we take diversity to another granular level which is in terms of access
to Europe. So a lot of aggregation of access is happening in Marseilles in
France and this is important that we move eastward and westward of Marseilles
and certainly new access points are happening in Monaco, in Pointe Rouge which
is about four kilometers east of Prado Beach. And also in Europe, places in
Sicily, like Catania, and also even further east beyond that in Turkey and also
in using Cypress to build an environment of fiber, protected fiber with
different states in the region.
Taking diversity again in a granular approach, below the Mediterranean, across
Egypt, as you can see the fiber that goes across Egypt that carries this traffic
is inherently very diverse. You can see that many of those systems use
different paths, a north and a south path. In order to make sure there is
And, in fact, much of the world's IP transit is happening here which puts
another idea for the challenge of access as our moderator was talking earlier
about access does not just mean structure. It also means cost.
This amount of Internet traffic that is passing through this fiber, in this
little geography, is really bringing up the issue that we plan to challenge the
need for IP transit versus IP peering. With enough traffic happening in this
region, we wonder if very soon this would become an important enough network
access point for the rest of the world to consider to peer with us, and hence
help us reduce our cost of Internet access. And certainly make things more
affordable for everyone.
By meshing this infrastructure, we can take things to another level of
protection. You can imagine, rather than having two routes for every cable, you
have as many routes as there are cables. And accordingly, the production can be
taken to an end level rather than to a one plus one level.
This is a slide that shows the activity that happened in the Mediterranean.
It's taken from the Web site of Alcatel. It shows the cable cuts that happened
in the east near Catania and then further in the west near Matsara (phonetic)
and affected about six different cable cuts. And certainly this was a very big
adventure for some of us. And it also brought up many questions. Some
questions have to do with what preemptive policies can be put in place in order
for the marine activities around this region to be happening in a more
controlled way and also brings up issues like if this can be done, well, what
can we do in order to access Europe in other ways, and depart from Egypt in
And I have one last slide that I can share with you which is a picture of an
anchor of a ship. A ship that was dragging its anchor for nearly a thousand
kilometers until it hit a pipeline and caused much more damage than just hitting
fiber. And the amount of damage it did to the sea bed and the effect of that.
It's another policy issue since we are in the Internet Governance Forum that we
can think about.
Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you very much, Mr. Mohamed El Nawawy, for pointing out
some of the physical connectivities to North Africa and, at the very end, the
important issues of the environmental implications of some of these matters of
Our next speaker is Mr. Ernest Ndukwe. He is the chief executive officer and
executive vice president of the Nigerian communications commission.
>>ERNEST NDUKWE: Thank you very much. I would like to first thank the
Egyptian authorities for the great arrangements that have been made for us since
we came into this beautiful city. And also thanks to the organizers for this
opportunity to speak.
Let me start by saying that access is very fundamental. Without access, there
will be no Internet. And Internet is not real and cannot be experienced, used,
or valued by the individual or groups that do not have access.
Access, to me, means being connected to the Internet at the right speed and at
the right price, and linked to the right content at the right time and at the
For the interest of time, I will restrict my intervention to the enabling
infrastructure, especially with respect to regional and national backbones as
well as security and safety issues.
I think it's true to say that many developing countries lost out on the telecom
revolution that happened before the advent of mobile communications when the
rest of the world developed copious installed capacities for fixed-line
transmission and last mile or last meter infrastructure.
With the coming of Internet, and of course the commercialization of the use of
Internet, the cable infrastructure became the access infrastructure in those
more developed countries for linking homes and offices to the Internet employing
Thus, for many developing countries today, last market, last mile, or last
meter access to the Internet has to be wireless. We can talk about the new
technologies, UMTA, WCDMA, Wi-Fi, wi-max, satellite transmission, and of course
terminal systems like the mobile phones, PDAs, and the like.
It is also important that last meter access is developed side by side with
national and regional backbone infrastructure to ensure affordable bandwidth
costs and interconnection and interlinking and peering.
Regulators and governments must have a responsibility to encourage investment
in building of large capacity, optic fiber infrastructure within their national
boundaries and across the region.
I was in a meeting recently where I tried to launch a campaign for what I
termed fiber without borders. This followed the realization that some countries
in Africa, especially in SubSaharan Africa, delay or deny rights, rights of way
for cross border or cross country uptake fiber infrastructure projects. Some
countries even deny landing rights to companies seeking to land submarine cables
on their shores.
These, no doubt, are very serious policy and regulatory issues that must be
addressed if we need Internet for all, especially in the not so developed parts
of the world.
There is no doubt that Africa today needs optic fiber highways crisscrossing
There is also no doubt that if this happens, this will help aggregate African
data traffic, reduce cost of access, increase regional transit footprints,
encourage regional peering, facilitate development of local content, and enhance
the contribution of Africa to the knowledge resource on the Internet.
Within national boundaries, I think it's also important that we encourage the
build-out of fiber to even the remote parts of the continent, or the country.
In Nigeria we have a project called the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative,
and the idea is to incentivize operating companies by form some of subsidy to
enable them to build fibers to those areas that they don't consider very
I will now talk about security. And on the issue of security of access, I wish
to approach it from a different perspective. And I will give an example of a
recent happening in my country, Nigeria, where we had a major cable cut of the
link to the Sat3 submarine cable infrastructure. This is the single submarine
cable that actually lines on our shore in our country, though there are a number
of new projects that will bring two more of that to the shores very soon.
When this cut happened it affected voice and it data traffic to and from
outside the world. This was an inadvertent and unplanned cable cut.
But no doubt, disrupted critical business and social interests interactions.
And this example brings home the realization that unprotected critical
infrastructure, whether state owned or privately owned, can have far-reaching
consequences on the business life of a country, and could grind critical
activities to a halt. And can even escalate to disaster proportions if not
So I am actually advocating, therefore, the need for governments and regulators
and policymakers to plan for major protection initiatives for critical
infrastructure, especially landing points and the like within their countries.
And also encourage the build-out of redundancies. And I might say diversity in
the provision of critical infrastructure. And this may also include satellite
communication links alternatives, even when cable transmission access are
Mr. Chairman, I think this is important in ensuring that when connected, we can
always remain connected.
I thank you for this opportunity.
[ Applause ]
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you very much for those remarks. I am very sympathetic
with the notion of making sure that the physical plant and the resources are
protected, especially since I come from a region -- the Caribbean --
experiencing hurricanes on a regular basis, destroying much of the physical
assets, and now thinking a lot about underground and other protective devices,
and multimodal redundant capacity-building for our next.
Our next speaker is Mr. Ermanno Pietrosemoli. He is president of the Latin
American networking school called EsLaRed, based in Venezuela. Mr. Ermanno.
>>ERMANNO PIETROSEMOLI: The slides?
>>HOPETON DUNN: Yes. Could we have the slides up?
>>ERMANNO PIETROSEMOLI: Okay. Thank you very much. I will talk about the
very specific topic that is related with all the previous presentations, and
it's about how to achieve connectivity in developing countries, and how to do it
with low-cost solutions.
The difference of what has been said so far is about that these will solutions
that can be implemented directly by the communities that will benefit from them,
and not necessarily by big corporation that sometimes do not have the incentive
to serve rural and sparsely populated areas.
The motivation for this kind of work has already been dealt with by the
previous speaker, so I just might add that for sparsely populated area, fiber is
not the solution, because it's not cost-effective to give connectivity in a
rural area by fiberoptics. Of course fiber is needed for the backbone, is
needed for the international connectivity, but we need another sort of modality
for serving these kind of areas.
WiMax is very promising, but is still quite expensive, and so are the cellular
solutions that were mentioned before that are also very good but not the best
for a rural area.
For rural areas, we have found that WiFi solution, the same kind of WiFi
devices that has been employing connectivity to all of us in this venue can be
easily modified to provide connectivity to rural villages and even in extended
regions and even at long distances.
One of the first examples that I just reminded is University of (saying name)
in Nigeria, for which we built a connection of three of the campuses back in
'95. That was a short link connection, only one kilometer, but it was a
replacement of a fiberoptic cable that was much more expensive at the time.
There are many other examples of this kind of solution being implemented all
over the world, and not only in developing countries but also in developed
countries. There are many examples of solutions of WiFi by modifying the media
access of the WiFi, we can still use the same hardware just by modification of
the software, and by fitting external antennas, we can reach much longer
In the quest to see how big a distance could be reached, we made an experiment
in April 2006, and we were able to take advantage of a particular geography that
provided a clear line of sight between a mountain that is 4,300 meters high and
a hill that is 125 meters and we were able to span a distance of 280 kilometers
with just normal off-the-shelf WiFi gear and external antennas.
A year later, we were able to locate another location that had a mountain of
1,500 meters at the other side, and so we could prove that it is feasible to use
again WiFi gear to go over a path of 382 kilometers, even if the -- and at the
speed that is quite useful for providing connectivity to a village of 8 megabits
per second directional. These are just an example of -- it's not -- of course
you cannot find every day this topographical suitable situation to take
advantage of such a long link, and I don't think this is going to be used
commercially, but it gives you an idea of how far we can go.
And in more real terms, we have done -- another example of application of WiFi
technology which has been used by the people is in Malawi where we built a
network to provide connectivity of the Hospital of Mangochi to the College of
Medicine in Blantyre over three steps, one of 7 kilometers from Blantyre to an
intermediate repeater, then 55 kilometers, and then the last test or the last
stretch of 100 kilometers from Zomba Peak to Mangochi, and this was done with
standard WiFi equipment and just modifying the firmware and using big external
antennas. Actually these antennas weren't that big. They were just 1.2 meters
in diameter. So this is an example we were able to prove the end-to-end
throughput of 40 megabits per second, and I think that these will some of the
solutions that can be useful for developing countries. We think that the major
obstacle for this kind of solution to be more prevalent is the lack of awareness
of the people of this -- of its existence, and, therefore, we have devoted most
of our energy to try to spread the knowledge of this kind of solution by means
of sites like WirelessU that has been sponsored by several international
organizations in which there is a repository of material for low-cost wireless
solutions which are available for everybody in several languages, freely
downloadable, and we actually encourage people to make as much use of this as
possible, and also we published a book that is called "Wireless Networking for
the Developing World." This is a team effort from different people from
different countries, and mentioning about multilingualism, this book has been
published in six languages, including Arabic, Indonesian, English, French,
Portuguese, and is again freely downloadable in the site in the site
wirelessnetworkingforthedevelopingworld.net, or in the WirelessU site I
This book can be obtained in paper for a nominal cost from the publisher
because it's published under the creative common license and anybody can make
use of it for training in this particular technologies.
So these are some of the organizations that have been trying to push the
usefulness of this technology for developing countries. I know that the time is
very short. I'd be happy to entertain any questions. Thank you very much.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you, Ermanno, for those remarks. And that presenter
would take us to the end of the number of presenters from this end of the table.
This end of the room.
I wanted for us to engage in a discussion now. We have maybe just under half
an hour in which we'll invite comments, questions, and all we ask is for you to
There are persons in the aisles who will bring the microphones to you. Yes. I
>> Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like, first, to thank the
panel for very informative presentations. My name is (saying name). I'm from
Kenya. I represent the private sector.
My specific question is to Pierre regarding the policies and strategies that
developing countries should adopt for mobile broadband adoption.
Yesterday, I happened to be in a workshop where two presenters, one from a
highly developed country and another from a developing country demonstrated two
very different mobile phones. The developed country has a problem of an aging
population. 30% are over 65 years. So they have developed a 4G phone that is
very easily usable by the elderly, but is expensive at $300. The developing
country has a problem with a very -- with a large small population -- with a
large young population. The popular phone in the developing country is a basic
one that costs only $15. The point is that in the developing world, the basic
phones are apparently adequate to address the access needs of the population, so
my question to Pierre is: Given the differences between developed and
developing countries, do you think the developing countries need to focus on
basic and affordable technology for quickly bridging the digital divide, rather
than trying to keep up with the latest technology and spending resources on
technology such as mobile broadband, which is too expensive for the majority of
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay. Your question has been heard. Yes, please go ahead
with the response. I know we have several persons wishing to speak.
>>PIERRE DANDJINOU: Thank you very much for this interesting question, and
well, I think my take on it is quite simple. It's about, you know, being part
of the industry.
This mobile broadband issue, there are two things that you'll notice that,
okay, the needs from the developed worlds and those from developing worlds are
different, actually, but the good news is that they are all, I will say,
interesting to be -- sort of -- want to invest on it, and you have it shown it,
the way people are investing in developing countries and also how the developing
countries are prone to invest in this because it really applies to them.
Now, on the devices -- I believe this is your problem and your question -- I
think, yes, if possible, one will argue that developing countries will invest on
those basic, you know, outlets or equipment.
Your question actually is calling for the necessity also of thinking about, you
know, local -- some local industry, and this is something we are always, you
know, arguing for.
And, therefore, the policies I was alluding to also should include an element
of innovation, and that's also where the investment, appropriate investment on
sort of local industry is needed.
Yeah, I think that would be my take on that. Thanks.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Yes. Thank you.
>>ROHAN SAMARAJIVA: My name is Rohan Samarajiva. I represent LIRNEasia, a
What I have found a little surprising about the panel is while you are clearly
and correctly focusing on the question of affordability and what governments can
do to solve -- help us solve the problem, why are we not looking at the two
experiences that we have had in the last 10 to 15 years? One which has been an
extraordinary success and one which has been an abject failure. The
extraordinary success is mobile telephony.
Because we licensed large numbers of companies in certain countries, we now
have a situation where in India we are connecting 15 million people a month. We
have a situation where the affordability that you are -- you and I and everybody
is so concerned about is now becoming not a problem. In India, in Bangladesh,
in Pakistan, a mobile phone is extraordinarily affordable. The prices, the
ARPU, the average revenues per user, are below $5 and the companies are making
profits and the companies are making investments.
So this is a successful model. What we need to do is to develop government
policies that will leverage this model, that will help us to extend this model
to the broadband arena. We need to ask the question: Why is it that it is
possible to make profits and contribute to government revenues in south Asia at
less than $5 U.S. per customer while in poorer countries, in Africa, in Latin
America in particular, we have extraordinarily high prices, same technology,
same GSM being used. That suggests that there has been a failure that can be
fixed because we just need to learn from the south Asian experiment and see what
can be extended.
And when it comes to universal service, which is the abject failure, there is
no country that I know of where this has worked very well.
We have $4 billion unspent in Brazil. We have $4 billion unspent in India.
India made some very significant improvements in their universal policy --
service policies recently based on lots of representations, including ours, yet
it cannot get rid of this money, and they ask us how to spend it. And we say,
"Why are you taxing poor people?" "To keep money in funds."
"That you are not using or you are misusing."
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay.
>>ROHAN SAMARAJIVA: So the model will be served by reducing taxes. The model
will be served by freeing up frequencies, but I think we need to focus on the
business model, and of government action that can support it --
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay.
>>ROHAN SAMARAJIVA: -- rather than pure government action, which unfortunately
is what I'm hearing most of the time --
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you.
>>ROHAN SAMARAJIVA: -- at this event. Thank you.
>>HOPETON DUNN: We're going to bank a few questions -- meaning take a few --
before we put it to the panel in order to take a few more of the questions.
I would like to acknowledge that lady at the back, and then this gentleman as
>>ANITA GURUMURTHY: Yeah. I would really like -- my name is Anita and I come
from I.T. for Change in, an NGO in India. We do policy research as well as work
in the field with marginalized populations and my reflections now just come from
the experience of having worked with marginalized populations in the country, in
about 50 villages in south India.
What is emerging and I think needs to also be on the debate here is that local
governments -- not just federal, central governments, and state governments, but
local governments -- increasingly have begun to harness the power of broadband
to improve the quality of governance. So the question to be asked is, you know,
where are marginalized populations standing in relation to this? And here I
really feel that we need to nuance and be very clear about the roles that --
role that mobiles can play and the role that broadband can play.
It's been acknowledged the world over that public services can be a lifeline
for the poor, and especially for women, and if public services and the
accountability in relation to public services has to improve, then the local
information transparencies, local information architecture, is changing
dramatically in many countries, including in India, and here I really think that
what is underemphasized but is happening very quietly in the landscape is a lot
of public investment and public finance, and this really needs to be emphasized
and brought back. This was on the cards and on the table in 2005 when we spoke
about public finance modalities in WSIS.
I also noticed that in the context of our own work, intermediary organizations
like NGOs who have been working for the right to information, right to food
security, right to health, light to education, have very successfully used the
broadband in order for social mobilization in order to get the entitlements to
poor women, et cetera. So I think that instead of kind of looking at mobiles
versus broadband and binaries, we need to look at what kinds of architectures in
terms of technical as well as policy architectures, we're going to be able to
promote local governments to be more accountable, more transparent and more
relevant to local populations. Thank you.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Thank you very much. We just take this remaining question and
then we put the questions we've had to the panel.
>>MOHAMED EL-MOGHAZI: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Mohamed El-Moghazi from
the interior of Egypt. Just I have a question for the last speaker, Mr.
Regarding the WiFi solutions that were proposed, how do you see the regulation
for such links, considerable the fact that most countries are not allowing such
big power -- huge amount of power to be used in those unlicensed bands.
And my second question: How reliable are those links? Thank you.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay. And we've been followed, of course, on the Internet by
a large audience, and we have one or two questions coming through from them.
The first one --
>>AMR BADAWI: One point of order. Translation will stop at 1:00 p.m., so --
but we can continue the meeting beyond that, but people who cannot understand
English I think will have to bear with us somehow. Thank you.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay. So we'll bear that in mind and speed things up a bit.
We have a question from someone online: Are there practical measures to
protect fiberoptic cables? Are there practical measures to protect fiberoptic
So we have a number of questions which we would like members of the panel to
address. First of all, the one from Rohan Samarajiva to do with mobile
telephony and the universal service as varying levels of successes, and the
question we've just heard from India as well as the question relating to WiFi.
Could we start with anyone wishing to respond in respect of mobiles and
>>ERNEST NDUKWE: Thank you very much. I think, Rohan, you are quite right
about the success of mobile communications. There's no doubt that that has been
a major driver of connectivity and reach. For the mass market. That's why
during my early intervention, I said that for many developing countries today,
mass market links to the Internet has to be wireless, and mobile technology
plays a very important role in that regard.
But I'm also aware that we don't have a one size fits all Argentina because
even in some parts of the world, even mobile signals have not reached some
places, and sometimes you might depend on other technologies to be able to reach
those rather remote locations.
And also, one other issue with mobile is that technologies, especially with
respect to the terminal equipment, sometimes can also be a challenge.
Especially when you want to access the Internet.
The phones that are able to do things like broadband and Internet sometimes are
a bit on the high side as far as the ordinary person is concerned, but
definitely I think you're very correct that we should, as much as possible, take
advantage of the wide spread of mobile technologies at fairly affordable rates
in order to spread broadband to as many parts of the world's population as
possible. Thank you.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Any responses to the question? Yes.
>>PIERRE DANDJINOU: Thank you very much. I think the -- good question posed
by the lady from I think India on local government and their role.
Yes, definitely, I think that can also be addressed on what I was alluding to,
which is the national policy towards this spreading, you know, this mobile
I definitely think that we need to be much more innovative, especially at this
policymaking, and you are so right that we should incorporate, you know, all
stakeholders. Namely, the local governments.
So I will say, yes, it's about, you know, being innovative, and if we are
really serious about extending the benefit or the opportunities to the
marginalized or kind of rural areas.
So I'll say, yeah, it can be addressed by the policy, the national policies I
would put in place.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay. The question about WiFi?
>>ERMANNO PIETROSEMOLI: Well, the question was very specific, and I should
have answered that in my presentation, but I was in a hurry because they limited
Anyway, as regards power, we are not exceeding the power limit. These
experiments were done with just 100 milliwatts of output power and just by
fitting an external antenna, we were able to reach longer distances, so power is
not an issue.
And as far as the license bands, we are using the unlicensed 12.4 gigahertz
band, which is available just about anywhere. Some countries are more liberal
in the use of that band than others, but it is in one way or other available
Furthermore, the same technology can also be used in different bands, and as
some of the panelists have suggested, the allocation of special frequency bands
for rural applications will be a very smart move from government and regulators,
and if done nowadays in which there are frequency agile radios that can be
quickly put to use in different bands, this opens the road for very low-cost
solutions to be applied with this kind of technologies.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Great. Thank you. So we take just maybe two or three more
questions. We'll ask Jose Clastornik from -- to make his question.
>>JOSE CLASTORNIK: Hi. My name is Jose Clastornik. I am the Executive
Director of the national Information Society agency in Uruguay.
I wanted to speak about a relevant project on the matter. It's the first
one-laptop-per-child model implementation known to be done at a national scale.
>>HOPETON DUNN: I'm not sure we're hearing you clearly.
>>JOSE CLASTORNIK: Okay. Now yes?
>>HOPETON DUNN: That's better, yes.
>>JOSE CLASTORNIK: It's a project, the first one-laptop-per-child model
implementation known to be done at a national scale.
The second project, although you can think about it as an occasional project,
we in the first years use it as a -- as an access project in order to integrate
more people to the Internet. The principles that guided the project are the
right to access (inaudible) for all the people, equal opportunities, and the
democratization of knowledge.
Our intention was to give one laptop per child and for each teacher, to give
connectivity to all schools and high schools, and to make possible for all the
children that they had connectivity just 2- to 300 meters from their home, and
we achieved this in no more than 2 1/2 years using all methods of connectivity
you can think about.
From cable to satellite, WiFi, mesh technologies, and so on.
And although it was a government project, I must emphasize the work done by the
social -- the civil society, for example, in helping children -- helping
teachers and in helping the families of the children in introducing the
technology in their families.
If I -- I can summarize this, I can say that in a little more than two years,
one-fourth of the homes of the country have now one or more laptops in their
homes, and they have also connectivity.
They have free access to Internet in all cities or villages where you can find
a school or high school.
At the middle of the project, Cisco and IDC make --
>>HOPETON DUNN: Jose, can I ask you to conclude and summarize and maybe pose a
>>JOSE CLASTORNIK: Yeah. I think the success of the project you can measure it
in the volume of connectivity. We doubled in each year the connectivity, the
broadband connectivity of the country that already was one of the greatest in
Latin America. And it -- this access you can measure in a lot of ways. We have
elections now. This is the most successful project of the government, and if
you want to have a little more information, you can find on the Web.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. I'm sure that those people
wishing further information about that whole LPC project can contact Jose in the
Colleagues, we are looking to wrap up now. We have one more question which we
will take from the person at the very back, and then we will ask our session
chair to conclude in a minute or two. Please go ahead. No? Oh, sorry. It's a
>>FOTINDONG CORNELIUS: Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I am Fotindong Cornelius from Cameroon. I work with the Minister of Posts and
Telecommunications, where we are in charge of defining policy with regards to
We realize that with the liberalization of the telecommunications sector there
has been a tremendous advantageous increase in the mobile connectivity, increase
in tele-density, in mobile tele-density on Internet connectivity. These are
some of the efforts of the privatization. But there are two major challenges
that still need to be addressed.
For example, access in the rural and enclaved areas, the mobile operators, the
commission operators are reluctant to invest in these areas because of the
little profits or no profits that are there.
Secondly, you have the problem of developing a national backbone.
The commission operators do not agree on developing a single backbone. They
intend to -- each one -- each wants to develop a backbone, so there will end up
being parallel backbones. Of course this has an incidence on the end user
through the charges, the tariffs that they will be charged.
In view of this situation, government is tempted to review the liberalization
policy that is trying to take over the connection of the rural areas which have
not been covered by the coverage -- or not covered by the commission operators,
and the development of the national backbone.
Within that -- we also think that the deployment of certain technologies like
the landing price of some marine cables are issues of national sovereignty and
should be handled by the government.
I would like Mr. Badawi of Egypt and Mr. Ndukwe of Nigeria, because they are
directly concerned, also Mr. Mohamed El Nawawy, to tell us how these things are
-- how these issues are addressed in their own countries. Thank you.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay. Great. Thank you very much. We have heard that
We are just going to ask the selected members of the panel who may wish to make
very short responses to questions which are remaining, to be very concise in
just a couple of responses before we move to the conclusion of the session.
>>ERNEST NDUKWE: I'd like to comment on the last question.
One thing I'll really recommend is that you don't reverse the liberalization
process that we are already undertaking. I think it's good.
What we have done in our country with respect to extending backbone
infrastructure to rural areas is adopting what we call State Accelerated
Broadband Infrastructure. And what you can do is to incentivize your operators
by some form of subsidy in order to extend this cable infrastructure to rural
Just bear in mind that many of the incumbent operators operated for over 50
years without getting to those rural areas. So government may not be the right
provider of such infrastructure, to my mind.
So I think you still need to see a way of working with the private operators by
some form of subsidy that will ensure that you achieve the goal of extending
services to all parts of the country.
Thank you very much.
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay. I think that brings us to the end of the responses,
both from the panel and the questions from the audience, given time.
We did have a number of queries and questions coming through online. We have
not been able to respond to but one of them. And we know we have other
questions pending in the audience that we have also not been able to get to.
But so far, we have been able to get to quite a few. And I want to thank you
for your participation, and also invite you to thank members of the panel for
their presentation before we get to the wrap up.
[ Applause ]
>>HOPETON DUNN: Mr. Badawi.
>>AMR BADAWI: We heard some very interesting presentations today. I think
they were very technical, but I think they were to the point. And I can say
that from these presentations, we can come to some conclusions. Where the main
issue is to provide affordable access. Affordable access can be provided
through better management of spectrum. And I think with the digital divide, we
have a historic opportunity to be able to provide broadband, wireless broadband
at reduced cost provided that the governments start managing that spectrum.
And especially for governments in countries like in the African countries, the
Arab countries, where they have stark differences from what exist in Europe in
terms of the broadcasting services available and the utilization of TV channels.
If you look at especially the 700 megahertz band, you will find that in most
Arab and African countries the utilization is extremely low, and that is really
wasted band that could be very, very well used in providing broadband services.
And I urge the countries there to get together and see what would be the best
means to advance on that issue.
The other thing is that we need to reduce cost. Especially for rural areas, we
should look at universal service funds that are available, and that could reduce
the cost of accessing the network.
We have heard about the marine cables. Marine cables will provide much cheaper
international bandwidth to all developing countries. And that saving has to
pass through to the customers. If the operators and the Internet service
providers pass that to the consumer, definitely, and we urge them to do that,
then we will have a more affordable broadband.
The infrastructure itself, the fiberoptic infrastructure within the country, I
know there are different levels of infrastructures available, but this is a
national -- it should a national project to make sure that all the country is
well connected. And I think the governments should provide incentives even for
just purely infrastructure companies to provide these services to the different
operators, whether mobile, fixed, and Internet service provider.
We have what we have heard from Venezuela regarding their experimentation with
less expensive technologies is something to be encouraged for developing
countries. And maximum use of available inexpensive technology should be there.
I think that kind of wraps up all the issues. And we can -- I would recommend
that this would be part of the declarations or statements listed by this
>>HOPETON DUNN: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Badawi. And thank you to those who
have remained. Thank you very much.
We wish now to conclude this session.
Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]