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Asia Pacific has the exciting prospect of using expertise and experiences residing within the region to develop appropriate solutions to the technical challenges posed by the digital divide. The region would find it very worthwhile to localise and globalise R&D in FLOSS as well as low-cost text- and voice-based devices to meet the needs of the hundreds of millions of disconnected people.
Governments can at the same time wield their policy-making instruments astutely to provide connectivity to their citizens by liberalising the telecommunications and ICT industries so that profitable urban segments of users can obtain more efficient services at a cheaper price. They should also unlicense the 2.4- and 5-GHz radio bands required for WiFi services to prosper. Keeping these two radio bands the exclusive domain of telecommunications companies and the government is a short-sighted policy that will eventually delay the growth of information societies and stymie the expansion of national economies.
Governments also need to ensure the provision of ICT services to isolated rural areas, which will inevitably suffer in liberalisation regimes that aim to maximise profits in commercially viable parts of the country. The risk of entrenching the digital divide through liberalisation is a very real risk in most countries in the region.