Monday, October 8, 2007

First wireless nation: Macedonia

It appears that an unlikely award has been bestowed upon a Mediterranean nation this year. Macedonia has been able to install a wireless network across the nation. Though this feat was not done alone, it is a marvelous step for Macedonia.

In the U.S. it seems to be the policy of the federal government and its agencies to allow for the market to spread Internet access across the nation. That is why in the U.S. there are 'pockets' of broadband connectivity. Usually these 'pockets' are in proximity to locations of denser population. The reason, in order for the communication company to make profits it must be present in areas with potential to create profits. In short it is more profitable, thus doable, to connect a city of 500,000 people for broadband connectivity than a town of 5,000. Gradually as market saturation increases in the larger population locations, broadband connectivity will filter out to less populated, less profitable areas of the U.S.; thus is my understanding.

The confusing point of this post centers on why monies and support from USAID was used for what is not done in the U.S.? Why is it that the U.S. can instigate a national broadband policy, however indirectly, in Macedonia, but not in the U.S.? Yes, the U.S. is much larger and perhaps better off with regards to infrastructure to support Internet connectivity, but why would USAID sponsor the development of high speed connection of schools, rural governments and populations in Macedonia, but not the U.S.? Maybe the US is using Macedonia as a testing ground for a national broadband policy? Congratulations are in order for Macedonia, for becoming the first nation with universal Internet access.

3 comments:

Glenn said...

As the person who directed this project, I am able to explain the intentions of USAID. At first blush this was an educationally centered activity providing connectivity to 460 schools throughout the country. I explained that since we would be covering the entire country anyway, lets use the schools as an anchor tenant and leverage that demand to build out a nationwide network. USAID liked the entire concept, especially since it supported the goal of creating a competitive atmosphere in a non-competitive environment. The result was that Internet use went from 4% to 33% in 3 years. Check out www.mkconnects.org for more information about the entire activity. It is not a WIFI country it is however a Point to Point wireless country where 95% of the nation has access. The ISP provides WIFI services in the cities which account for roughly 60% of the population.

Wyatt said...

Thanks for the additional information glenn. It is a great project. Maybe lessons learned during this project can be used to help alleviate some of the U.S.'s problem spots with connectivity.

DocMartens said...

Interesting that your first outside commentator was Glenn Strachan himself! Something to bear in mind when you begin to pursue that thesis topic in all seriousness....