Developing countries — virgin markets without the historical load of copper landlines — are the perfect places for experimenting. That’s why Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, has added India to the list of more than 250 trials and commercial deployments in more than 12 countries worldwide, where he’s running pilot WiMAX projects in schools and hospitals.Just past 2 p.m. on Sept. 3, with the sun glaring overhead, there is a flurry of activity among the waiting crowds at Tindivanam Taluk Hospital in Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost state. Bugle players straighten the tassels on their instruments, line up on each side of a long red carpet, and start to blow. Drummers accompany them in a cheerful welcome. Women in gaily-colored saris wait in the heat, trays of rose petals in their hands, for the very important guest to arrive.
Bridging the Digital Divide
It’s not just the massive business Over 800,000 High Quality Domains Available For Your Business. Click Here. that could result that’s on Barrett’s mind — the effort is part of the company’s pro bono efforts. Barrett is involved in the U.N.’s mission to bridge the global digital divide and use technology to reduce poverty. As chairman of the U.N. Global Alliance for ICT (Information & Communications Technology) & Development, he travels the world in a bid to persuade governments “to help increase access to and use of technology through public-private partnerships, local content, and electronic services.”Part of that effort has been Intel’s linking up with technologist Nicholas Negroponte, who has been developing a US$100 laptop. Hardware is one part, but “connectivity,” says Barrett, “is just as important.” Homegrown Indian hardware companies like HCL Technologies, he notes, have a large opportunity here.