WiFi in Developing Countries
BBC News writes:
Advocates of wi-fi, in both developed and developing countries, argue that they need to have unregulated, unlicensed and uncontrolled access to the radio spectrum so that they can be innovative and make money.
They believe that the existing model, where governments issue licenses to radio and TV stations or to other users of radio spectrum, partly to ensure that services do not interfere with each other and partly to make some money out of a natural resource, is wrong and out-dated.
The advocates of free spectrum are loud and getting louder. They speak out on weblogs, they lobby politicians and they have the ear of the United Nations.
There is, therefore, a real danger that they will drive a model of development, in this case based around wi-fi hotspots and unlicensed radio spectrum, that fits their own commercial interests and ideological position, instead of being what developing countries really need.
Speakers at the UN conference took turns criticising governments for being unable to manage the growth of wireless, while ignoring the massive success of GSM mobile phone rollout, where the radio spectrum is closely regulated but private companies provide the service.
Bridging the digital divide requires more than a commitment to deregulation and a desire to make money from potential new markets. It requires attention to the real needs and the real interests of the people living in countries without proper network infrastructure.