DEVELOPMENT REPORT - The Digital DivideBy Gary Garriott
This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.
One of the most serious problems today is how to help people who live far from cities to use electronic information over the Internet computer system. Many organizations working in development far from cities have computers. But it is very hard to send and receive information if they cannot connect to the Internet. As a result, people who cannot connect to the Internet can become poorer. And those who can, become richer. This is called the "digital divide."
Many people are trying to find ways to solve this problem. One method is to provide a low cost way to send and receive electronic mail through the Internet. In many areas, there is no way to connect to the Internet because there are no telephone lines. Or the telephone service is not good enough for computers to send and receive information. Or the service costs too much.
Now the American development organization called Volunteers in Technical Assistance, or VITA, has found a way.
Instead of using telephone lines, VITA uses satellites orbiting the earth to pick up messages from small radio stations on the ground.
The satellites also send messages to the stations that come through the Internet. The satellites are about eight-hundred kilometers up in space. They travel over every point on the earth at least four times every day. These passes over the earth can last from five to fifteen minutes. During this time, up to fifty pages of text or messages can be sent or received.
VITA and other organizations have developed new technology that makes it easier for people to contact the satellites by using computers. Next year, VITA hopes that thousands of new satellite radio stations will be built. These stations will be connected to computers and placed in hard-to-reach communities all over the world.
Then the people operating the stations will be able to send and receive electronic mail and use other information services on the Internet. VITA hopes that areas of the world forgotten by the information revolution will be able to send and receive electronic mail at very low cost.
You can get more information about electronic mail satellites from the group VITA at its Internet address, www. vita. org. Or you can write to Special English, Voice of America, Washington, D-C Two-Zero-Two-Three-Seven, U-S-A.
This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Gary Garriott.