This message comes to you from 30,000 feet over the Gulf of Benin --
well, it's being written there, but won't be delivered to the
Internet until I arrive at my hotel in Abidjan. 8*)
Uganda -- what can I say? Fascinating place. There was a four-page
insert about Uganda in today's Herald Tribune that I read on the
plane. Word's leaking out, it's a happening place.
Starcom and Infomail are forging ahead full speed. I visited both
offices, and both are full of busy technicians scurrying about.
Starcom, which does public telephones, radio phones, office systems,
and other stuff in addition to being an Internet service provider,
recently moved into a new building, quite slick, nice carpet. I
chatted with them about hooking up an important site in Entebbe to
the Internet via their radiophone service. They'd tested it in the
ASARECA office, and say it worked great at 9600. They've also
recently moved a dish to Jinja, and hope to offer service there.
Infomail, which has a companion computer sales and systems business
in addition to being an Internet service provider, says they've about
filled up their satellite dish and are about to add extra capacity.
We chatted about possible ways to improve local content. I had an
account with Infomail for the week I was there, and it was great to
collect my mail for the price of a local call. They've also wired
the Sheraton Hotel, and guests there can now reportedly open guest
accounts for all their Internet needs.
MUKLA at Makerere has its 9600 radio link to Starcom in place, and is
in the process of wiring campus sites for full Internet access. We
discussed ways the University might serve as a kind of information
backbone for Uganda.
The World Food Program sends email via 2400bps radio links to all
kinds of remote places in Uganda and neighboring countries -- even
as far as Dar es Salaam. I had some fascinating discussions with
staff there, and they took me to a site outside Kampala where
they've installed a high-power antenna to boost throughput beyond
what they can get from their in-town antenna. Equipment (radio,
modem, antenna) runs perhaps $8000. The WFP's special software,
developed with a USAID grant, allows seamless passage of messages to
and from the Internet using Pegasus Mail as the client.
Fascinating stuff. I'm still trying to imagine all the things we
might do with this technology.
Jeff (now descending through 25000 feet toward Lome)
AfricaLink -- http://www.info.usaid.gov/alnk