Technology Domain

This section reviews the availability of technology that meets the needs identified in the previous sections. Additionally, the most appropriate type of technology is determined according to the physical context in which it will operate.

The technologies include access technologies, access devices and applications. They are evaluated in accordance with the results obtained in each of the areas analyzed.

In examining access technologies, we review their availability and whether they can provide appropriate services to suit the region and the users' characteristics. In this way, it can be decided if a fixed telephone, mobile phone, radio, television, fiber optic, cable, PLC, WiFi or WIMAX technology is to be adopted and used.

Access devices are the mechanisms through which users interface and obtain information. In choosing the appropriate devices, the following characteristics must be taken into account:

  •  User characteristics
  • The environment in which the technology operates, including physical conditions,
  • Price,
  • Availability,
  • Ease of use,
  • Mobility, and
  • Energy consumption.

The applications in question refer to the software or utility that will be provided for the access devices and the network. At this point, in addition to the arguments arising from the user and physical contexts, it is important to consider the elements in the basic environment that will define many of the benefits or tele-applications. These may be directly related to development priorities.

Here we can return to the example used in the Base Conditions section: the Zambian grain producers for whom the developmental priority was access to markets. In that case, the producers had access to the mobile telephones at an affordable cost. Even though they also had access to the Internet through a portal at a digital community center, the most accessible and sought-after technology, considering the physical characteristics of the place and users, was the cellular phone.

This analysis is very relevant to the construction of an access center at a school in an indigenous community. Before building any such center, the questions that should be asked are: What is required? Who is going to use it and for what purpose? What are the geographical features of the area? Answers to these questions should dictate the characteristics of the network, equipment selection, required applications and, as we have seen, the creation of capacities for the use of the technology.

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