This paper outlines a migration path towards universal broadband connectivity, motivated by the design of a wireless store-and-forward communications network.
We argue that the cost of real-time, circuit-switched communications is sufficiently high that it may not be the appropriate starting point for rural connectivity. Based on market data for information and communication technology (ICT) services in rural India, we propose a combination of wireless technology with an asynchronous mode of communications to offer a means of introducing ICTs with:
?? affordability and practicality for end users;
?? a sustainable cost structure for operators and investors;
?? a smooth migration path to universal broadband?
A summary of results and data are given for an operational pilot test of this wireless network in Karnataka, India, beginning in March 2003.
We also briefly discuss the economics and policy considerations for deploying this type of network in the context of rural connectivity.
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