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Greetings Afrik-ITes!

I was watching Turner Classic Movies at the VIP Maputo Hotel, which in
itself was an accomplishment.  The hotel management had programmed only
Portuguese, South African, and CNN channels, but after checking the
auto-programming I discovered several more were available, and so settled
down to hear the theory that General Patton actually died by an assassin's
bullet rather than in a car crash of a broken neck.

The assassin arranged for a group of people to stop Patton's car as he
traveled to a farm for some hunting.  Knowing Patton would have to roll
down his window to accept flowers, the assassin secretly configured the
window handle to break in the down position, thereby affording a better shot.

Just at this moment I noticed an Ethernet port to the left of the
television near the baseboard.  Intrigued, I never did learn precisely how
Patton died.  Intrigued and puzzled, because there was nothing about
Internet access in the hotel literature (which I habitually read with
religious fervor upon checking in, at a minimum to know when breakfast is
served and whether I'm supposed to bring my own towel to the pool).  I'd
been dialing up (expensively) to a local IPASS server through SITA for all
three days of my visit, and now suddenly on my last day I spy an Ethernet
port in the corner.

Skeptical, I pulled out my cable and dongle.  To my astonishment, the line
was active, and in seconds the DHCP server had assigned me 62.56.225.130,
which the RIPE database lists as a member of the Portuguese TV CABO
network's local affiliate in Mozambique, the same folks who brought me
Turner Classic Movies.

Tracing route to cnn.com [64.236.16.52]
   1    10 ms   <10 ms   <10 ms  cust158-225.netcabo.co.mz [62.56.225.158]
   2    10 ms    10 ms    10 ms  10.9.0.1
   3     *      <10 ms   <10 ms  cust250-224.netcabo.co.mz [62.56.224.250]
   4    30 ms    10 ms    40 ms  cust52-230.ipplanet.com [192.118.52.230]
   5   601 ms   621 ms   611 ms  cust53-58.ipplanet.com [192.118.53.58]

Interesting link to IPPlanet's Harel Ben-Sheffer and Yossi Barkan in Tel
Aviv for the bandwidth.  The website has nifty bouncing sounds as two
satellites bob around.  Throughput to the USA was about 250 kbps, on a
Saturday, according to the PC Pitstop of PC Magazine.  Their upload test
yielded only 40 kbps.

A local technology firm told me that several of the hotels are now
wired.  Newer ones are running Ethernet cables to all the rooms, while some
are simply installing telephone dialup from the rooms through the centrex
to a hotel proxy server, perhaps a more economical solution for the older
buildings.

I remember a conversation I had three or four years ago with staff of the
University of Eduardo Modlane.  If interested in a bit of history, my old
trip report is still online at

http://www.usaid.gov/regions/afr/alnk/reports/saccar/TRP_MZ0597_Wkshp.html

with a related report from the SANGONet consultant Na'eem Jeenah at

http://www.usaid.gov/regions/afr/alnk/reports/saccar/sarr0597.htm

Na'eem has since moved on to bigger and better things, nothing so mundane
as teaching basic email access... http://tour.palsolidaritygrp.org/  I knew
him when...

What I distinctly remember about that last trip to Maputo, and what's not
mentioned in any of the above reports, is how s-l-o-o-o-w the link through
the University was in those days.  What a difference a few years make!

I did have a chance to get out of the city a bit, thanks to my local
host.  We drove to Namaacha on the road to Swaziland, just at the border,
to see a local telecenter, which was closed unfortunately due to the 10th
anniversary celebrations of the peace accords in Mozambique.  We tried the
cell number of the manager, but the recording suggested that number was not
in service.  We satisfied ourselves by stopping by a local
Telecommunicacoes de Mocambique (TDM) telecabine where we found two
Internet terminals, paying a few meticais for the privilege of testing the
microwave link back to Maputo and then on to CNN and beyond.  Not bad, as
good as in Maputo itself over dialup.

Our drive back to Maputo was mostly downhill, off the escarpment of Lebombo
and across what I'm told is essentially the lowest reach of the Great Rift
Valley, through rolling farmlands with clear signs of new development in an
economy that seems to be heading sharply upward.  The talk isn't just about
access any more, but now also includes discussions of business process
reengineering to incorporate networked computer systems more efficiently.

Equally intriguing was the toll station on the main highway (about US$ 0.3
for our car) just outside of Maputo, and the delicious prawn curry at the O
Escorpiao in the Feira Popular.  Steers accepts rands of course, and the
cash machines marked with the Visa symbol do indeed dispense local currency
on your international bank card.  Times indeed have changed.

Cheers!
Jeff @ Maputo



----
USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade
Office for Energy and Information Technology
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20523
http://www.usaid.gov/info_technology/icd
Tel +1 (202) 712-1956, Cell +1 (301) 728-2160, Fax +1 (202) 216-3380
[log in to unmask], [log in to unmask], AIM JeffreyCochrane