Wi-Fi buses drive rural web use

In many parts of the developing world it is too expensive to lay the fibres and copper cable to deliver a standard internet connection. In rural India and parts of Rwanda, Cambodia and Paraguay, buses and a fleet of motorcycles equipped with Wi-Fi offer web content to computers with no internet connection by updating their pages (up to six times a day) beforehand in cities. As well as offering popular pages, the United Villages project also allows users to request specific information, for a few additional rupees. The founder of the United Villages initiative, Amir Hassan, said the company had been set up to give those people in these areas a slice of the web for a fee noting that "there's only 0.003% percent of the web that rural India cares about."

The Wi-Fi vehicles also deliver and collect e-mails from the villagers as well as made it easier to buy essential products such as fertilisers, pesticides, books and medicines. "What we've done is created a catalogue of those products that they can order at the kiosk and get them delivered the next day via the bus. We're bringing e-commerce to rural India," Hassan said. Because many people in rural communities cannot read, and because the majority of the web is in English, villagers often rely on the person who operates the local computer to help them. "Right now, more and more people are asking me about what can be done on the PC and internet. My objective is to show to the village youth that having a PC with connectivity is a viable business so that more and more unemployed youth can take up this as a self-employment opportunity," said Raj Kishor Swain, who runs the computer in the village of Satasankha.

Link: Forum Discussion (Thanks Hum)
News source: BBC News

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