Improving public internet access, profitably.

Is it really possible? I certainly this so, go through my rationale for the project. Its a well documented fact, that Telecentres struggle to sustain (.pdf)  themselves.

When we discard cybercafés we are ignoring the most replicable and sustainable governance structure known – i.e. the privately owned business, and narrowing the range of possibilities.

“ Telecenter Sustainability – Myths and Opportunities by Francisco J. Proenza”

The post below is what helped me truly realise the power the internet has, by making it easier to discuss and and exchange views both privately of publicly. I posted it in April on my blog on the CIPESA website. Can you imagine how many people have nurtured their concepts using internet powered means, blogs, e-groups and regular email?

 

Internet cafes chain: commercial opportunity & potential impact on ICT development?

Submitted by Munya on 1 April, 2006 – 14:52.

 

Munya’s blog |The internet café industry world wide is a growing sector particularly with the advent of the gaming centre in the developed world, what are the prospects of building an internet café chain in African countries and issues to consider? Some of you might be aware of this study conducted in 2002, which tackles some of the issues and is a good introduction to the issues to consider.

 

Having continued to study this field, it is overly apparent that an internet cafe chain is the best way of achieving lower prices for the consumer and better profitability for the investor. I am looking for the most appropriate technical solutions to connect a multinational internet cafe chain. What comes to mind is a VSAT system used by many organisations such as United Nations, Shell Oil Company, African Development Bank, African Banking Corp etc. They are usually monitored and controlled from a single network operations centre. Is a VPN suitable and cost effective solution for a multinational internet cafe chain? What are the technical implications?

 

Internet cafes are a major accessibility enabler of the Internet in Africa yet the industry seems so defragmented and unprofitable in the long run. What are the opportunities if any in this industry and could a commercial motive result in reliable and internet access for those without internet at home or the work place or those simply looking for a different environment to use the net in?You might be wondering why the branches should be interlinked, mainly because from this internet café chain we would like to undertake research on the use of the internet in the host countries.

 

Further information:

 

 

Players in the field:

 

 

Munya’s blog |Submitted by Boko on 6 April, 2006 – 00:48.

 

Munya — per your second paragraph statement:

 

“…Having continued to study this field, it is overly apparent that an internet cafe chain is the best way of achieving lower prices for the consumer and better profitability for the investor. I am looking for the most appropriate technical solutions to connect a multinational internet cafe chain. What comes to mind is a VSAT system used by many organisations such as United Nations, Shell Oil Company, African Development Bank, African Banking Corp etc. They are usually monitored and controlled from a single network operations centre.’’

How do you propose ownership/management/control of this global Internet cafe chain? Maybe one company provides the backbone infrastructure and then small cafe operators rent nodes off this backbone? What about the other local factors like quirky power supply? Who manages this backbone — ICANN?

 

“A Child’s education should begin 100 years before birth…”

 

Submitted by Munya on 18 April, 2006 – 14:53.

 

I propose a private sector/commercial structure to ensure sustainability and easy replication across the continent. A group of shareholders coming together preferably from diverse backgrounds to create a commercial entity that will recruit management and leave the control of the organisation to the professional team of managers that will respond to market forces but also apply knowledge gathered from forums such as this one e.g. Infrastructure sharing. Local factors such as quirky power supply will be met by operating at a capacity high enough to justify extras such as an Uninterruptible Power Supply System and a Stand-by Generator. An internet access centre on this scale will likely crowd out smaller players, so we have to decide what is more important mass internet access at lower cost or small, poorly capitalised internet access providers overcharging for what is often sub standard service?

 

Submitted by Boko on 20 April, 2006 – 12:45.

 

Munya, if this is a purely commercial venture — an Internet Cafe chain spread across different 3rd world countries with a brand name, eh? You are looking to generate great profits by quantity (mass marketing) and hence be able to deliver greater quality of service? Startup costs will be pretty steep, but here’s how I’d proceed:1) Identify your ‘test-bed’ countries/number of sites per country — preferably places you are familiar with the markets, ICT temperament, etc.2) Rent your locations, get the fastest available service the local ISP can give, buy your stand-by power generators, advertise your brand name and clearly spell out your competitive advantages.3) If you are not happy with local ISP QoS, you can become an ISP and get your own VSAT (about $25k). Not sure if ISPs operate across national borders in Africa, but if they do, then you can use same ISP to host subsequent locations you open up in other countries within your VSAT range. And you can monitor network traffic patterns in your cafes via your ISP paraphernalia, and you can install some traffic monitoring devices in each cafe branch (this is a given anyway — used for store admin/accounting)4) If you are lucky, you’d find pre-existing ISPs with good QoS, and good delivery channels (VSAT, Fiber channels, etc) you can use, that way you wouldn’t have to go thru this (very expensive) route of being your own ISP and getting a VSAT over and over. 5) There really doesn’t need to be any ‘hard/protected connection’ between these cafe sites such as VPN since you can gather all your traffic data in real time from your different ISPs whenever you need it. VPNs apply more to multi-site companies who want to maintain the ‘illusion’ of an intranet – an intra-company network which is invisible to unauthorized WWW users.

 

“A Child’s education should begin 100 years before birth…”

0 thoughts on “Improving public internet access, profitably.

  1. Pingback: Of telecentres and internet/cyber cafes « African Ideation Station

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