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VSAT and VPNs

A recent discussion with the PNG group about VSAT and VPNs made me realize how varied implementations are; and how forward and brave some tech managers can be when it comes to trying the latest in technology.

We have a VSAT implementation ourselves; however given our requirement is primarily email and an in-house programmed ERP we have the flexibility of being able to alter bandwidth usage – either through stream compression or data packetizing. Generally bandwidth isn’t an issue because of the _way_ in which the software works. I admit though we do have a 1Mbps link, very limited cloud/overhead cover (thus getting good throughput even on dull days), and our usage of the link is itself limited. The implementation is at one of our organization’s offices based in the remote mountain region “Ladakh”.

Islands and mountains do have much in common don’t they – impossible to lay cable, tunnel or otherwise, generally best communication is through using satellite based tech. Altitude, yes, maybe even surrounding foliage and weather conditions may differ reasonably.

I understand there are certain situations in which 1Mbps – maybe even 100Mbps [heh] via VSAT proves to be inadequate due to latency issues. WAN optimization technology can help – but how much? And what are the challenges facing Pacific islanders as a whole, those that do have VSAT as a part of life, and what do you currently do to get over these challenges? We have organizations that haunt the Ladakh region in the name of “Research” – in the context of their own satellite internet equipment of course - are there similar ones in the pacific islands?

Plain vanilla internet apart, VPNs on the other hand, do consume a bit of additional bandwidth. In my implementation we chose to NOT use a VPN, instead using static IPs (IPv6) to streamline data flow. Yes there are security risks, and yes the connection does use an SSL based encryption to overcome that risk – but are there really situations that require the use of a VPN inspite of limited bandwidth? I would vote not.

I encourage you to post your feedback as a comment. Naturally there will be the odd technical genius who has the perfect 2 word solution for this problem – but basically we want to know:
1. Where you’re from (general region)
2. What VSAT provider you’re using (ours is Hughes)
3. How you reduced the impact of latency, security and usability all at once; or otherwise what you’d want to implement in an attempt to fix the same.

Mobile Affordability in the Pacific

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I found the Network Strategies published Pacific Islands Mobile market updates for 2009, 2010 and 2011 both interesting and challenging pieces of research. The changing stats and mobile costs are useful to explore and it’s great they publish this research online annually for all to access.  In the market updates it appears affordability of mobile telecommunications has improved for many countries. But it is still incredibly high for countries like PNG where these costs are still working out at 20%-35% of income.

I also note Network Strategies has used (for 2011) the 2010 OECD released ‘ mobile usage baskets’ for calculation, 2009 and 2010 used 2006 OECD baskets. Are these baskets ‘representative of personal mobile usage in the Pacific’ as the report states it hopes is the case? Hard to say without Pacific user patterns… Do any telcos in the Pacific capture/collaborate on this? Maybe PITA has or could facilitate user pattern data from telcos? Also might be worth digging around she what other ‘user baskets’ get used for calculating affordability/cost outside the OECD.

Research Special Interest Group of PICISOC?

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A Research focused PICISOC SIG has been discussed before.. and I think could be a great idea!

So, for those of you PICISOCers interested, I have a question for you:

Vanuatu Mobile Impacts Research

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The Pacific Institute of Pubic Policy is undertaking a multi-year study exploring the social and economic impact of Vanuatu’s mobile revolution.

Reports for 2008 and 2009 are out and according to their website field work recommenced in the first quarter of 2011 and the report of the third phase of the research will be published in October 2011.

PNG research: Mobile phones in rural villages a ‘double-edged sword’

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BRISBANE: The introduction of mobile phones in rural villages in Papua New Guinea is seen as a double-edged sword, with communities welcoming the opportunity to communicate but fearing it will lead to family breakdowns.

A study by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher Amanda Watson has explored the way new mobile technology, in areas which did not have landline, internet or electricity access, has been changing people’s lives, social structures and relationships.

Full story by (Queensland University of Technology/Pacific Media Watch).

Pacific ICT Research Resources and Discussion

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Hi All,

After much PICISOC list discussion, I thought at the very least I could set up a WordPress and link to some of  the ICT research we have on the Pacific Islands.

A lot may be behind paywalls in journals but this is a place to link to and discuss research that is accessible and of interest.

Related ICT4D and ICT research may also get a mention… :)

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