The Last Mile

Robert Cringely writes [in the US context]:

The obvious answer is for regular folks like you and me to own our own last mile Internet connection…The idea is simple: run Fiber To The Home (FTTH) and pay for it as a community of customers — a cooperative. The cost per fiber drop, according to Bill’s estimate, is $1,000-$1,500 if 40 percent of homes participate. Using the higher $1,500 figure, the cost to finance the system over 10 years at today’s prime rate would be $17.42 per month.

What we’d get for our $17.42 per month is a gigabit-capable circuit with no bits inside – just a really fast connection to some local point of presence where you could connect to ANY ISP wanting to operate in your city.


[via Yuvaraj] John Cooper writes:

MNN seeks to avoid the old ways and costs of incumbent or new entrant telcos, cable providers, wireless, or satellite companies by charting a new course. Providing back office functionality, MNN is a Systems Integrator & Managed Service Provider for communities, negotiating long-term service relationships with the community cooperatives it helps to create.

MNN’s business approach is its unique advantage: aligning a new business model to match new wireless broadband technologies and markets that have lower budgets or lower risk tolerance. Instead of criticizing traditional telecom companies for not extending their markets to rural or low-income areas, why not imagine what a more appropriate business model would look like for such hard-to-serve markets?

Departing from the traditional view of telecommunication networks as large complex network infrastructures, instead seeking the smallest, simplest network possible enables a different perspective, indeed, a paradigm shift.

Atanu Dey’s Story

Hindustan Times profiled my colleague, Atanu Dey, recently:

Economic development is a cause and consequence of urbanisation. The urbanisation of 700 million people of rural India through migration to the cities is impossible, and so is the urbanisation of 600,000 villages where they live. RISC attempts to urbanise the rural population and do so without the insanity of keeping them confined to tiny villages.

RISC involves the creation of rural hubs across India, each catering to a population of about 100 villages, so that the hub is no more than a bicycle-commute away for people in the villages. The hubs will have state-of-the-art infrastructure including 247 electricity, broadband connectivity, security and sanitation. Sound like a tall order? Maybe, but according to Dey it is achievable.

And how does Dey contribute at this point? From the sound of it, a lot of spade work. Strategic business consulting, talking to companies in the private as well public sector, talking to people in the ministry of Information Technology, evangelising… he rattles off. And then of course, there is the School-in-a-box project Deys attempt at reinventing the educational system.