The digital divide in Laos

For example in Laos

The digital divide in Laos if fairly large due to many different factors. The fact that there are only 15.000 computers in Laos could add to the divide because the less amount of internet access, the bigger growth in the digital divide. Also, only 1% has a fixed telephone line, yet only 4% of the population have it in households. This is because of the ammounting cost of installing a telephone line ($40). Also, electricity is only avaliable in a few urban areas.

There are many problems which have caused the divide; mountainous geography, monsoon rains, lack of coordination amoung government agencies, lack of IT standards to allow integration between systems, lack of IT at policy and skill levels, poor power and telecommunications infrastructure, poor ISP service, high costs of IT and the lack of Laotian language support.

The impact of the divide on Laos is resulting in there being less than 15,000 computers in Laos because the average cost of a computer is too high for an average Laotian resulting in a bridge in the digital divide.

Soloutions that have been provided so far are as follows; "Cantennae" is a mobile antennae which is made from a can, factory manufactured versions of this are aviable in the U.K. They have also been very successfull as phone based stations. "Pedal Powered wireless computers in Phon Kham. Phon Kham is one of the most poorest areas of Laos. There is no electricity or telephone system, but they have internet access from pedal power. A generator which is powered by a bike charges the battery for a 12 watt computer. It will also work in the monsoon season and the dry season. "The Jhai Foundation PC and communication and internet learning centers". This company has funded a number of community ICT projects. This has resulted in self sustained hubs for community learning. They also teach adults aswell as children.

The educational impacts of the solution 1 is the fact that this kind of technology can be used in schools because it is easy to make and set up. The education impact of solution 2 is the fact that this remote village will be able to be more educated because of the pedal power internet access, so even this remote village can view educational websites. The educational impact of solution 3 is the fact that the internet learning center has become a main hub meaning an anhanced chance for learning. The social impacts of the solutions is the fact that more people can use the different types on internet access, for example the people in Phon Kham can easily access the internet due to this new technology. The cultural impacts of the solutions is the fact that ther culture they are in now with no internet access will be changed. This may not nessasserily be for the better because the internet will be new to them and they may not have the skills to use the internet properly and effectivly. The economic impacts of the solutions is the fact that the countries GNP may increase due to more and easier internet access thus making transactions between countries easier.

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