Excerpts of the workshop held on “Low Cost Sustainability Access” at Internet Governance Forum Hyderabad
The First Article in the series delved on “Access, Connectivity & Device”, this week we bring to you the second focus area, which is:
Content and Services
The sustainability of Internet access always depends on the creation of adequate content and services that will attract people. In fact, the only way Internet access can be sustainable is gaining the acceptance of many users who are willing to pay for the content and services provided.
Accessibility and adaptability of content and services
As technology and Internet are reaching new sectors of the population, content has to respond to their cultural context and to their necessities. Content and services have to be created to not discriminate users on Internet. Problems of language, literacy and disabilities have to be tackled.
To make Internet accessible content creation in local languages is paramount. In fact, the majority of the content available in Internet is in English, spoken by approx. 500 million people in the world and Hindi, the world’s third most spoken language is not among the ten top languages on the net3. A recent study showed that in India, Internet market was almost saturated among English-speaker users and that content creation in local languages was essential to attract more users.
New applications are needed to make the existing content available for people who do not speak English.
- Translation tools are necessary not only to make existing content accessible but also to give people the possibility to share their local knowledge. In a country like India, it is important to focus on translation tools between local languages.
- To digitalize content in languages with non-Latin characters, tools must be created.
Reaching the weaker parts of society implies new challenges for developers. In fact, illiteracy is a large problem in many developing countries –39% of Indian population is illiterate4-. Software must be designed for this population, giving more importance to voice and video tools rather than writing and reading ones.
Software design must also allow people with disabilities to overcome their limitations and access to the information society.
Free software / Open source
Accessibility of software is an essential condition to fulfill people’s needs. In fact, software can be a barrier to access and create content and the efforts undertaken by free and open source software developers will benefit the weakest part of the population. Open source software allows adapting the possibility.
Meeting the needs of people
To make internet sustainable, services must be sold to the final user at a fair price. But people would only pay for services if they fill that they will get a benefit out of them. In this sense, content has to meet local realities and respond to their demands. When people will find on Internet the services they are looking for, they will get used to it and more needs will come to their mind and new services will be proposed, thus leading to a virtuous circle.
On another hand, there must be platforms to highlight the best content on Internet and to make it available for large sectors of the population. The World Summit Award and the Manthan Award selects the best practices on content for development, promoting their usage and inspiring the content and software developers. By spreading existing practices, these platforms will allow saving time and money in new content creation.
Finally, and as mobile telephony is expected to drive an important part of Internet growth in the next years,mobile constructors wi