bridging the digital divide technology for the other 4 billion
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FIT. Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology for the “other” 4 Billion. Umar Saif [email protected] LUMS Computer Science Department. Digital Divide. Pakistan Population: 160 Million Sixth Most Populous in the world Computer Users: < 9% Internet Users: < 5%.

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digital divide
Digital Divide
  • Pakistan
    • Population: 160 Million
      • Sixth Most Populous in the world
    • Computer Users: < 9%
    • Internet Users: < 5%
microsoft digital inclusion program
Microsoft Digital Inclusion Program
  • First program specifically targeted at digital divide
  • Announced in Oct, 2005
  • Awards announced on Jan, 2006
  • Total Award: $1.2 Million
  • Our proposal was one of the 17 funded by the program
    • 162 Submission from 34 countries
    • 40 reviewers for selection
    • Recipients from 10 countries
digital inclusion recipients
Digital Inclusion Recipients
  • Guillermo Marshall, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Carlos Osvalod Rodriquez, Cequinor/Lanais EFO, CONICETUNLP, Argentina
  • Henry Nyongesa, University of Botswana, Botswana
  • Srinivasan Keshav, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Miguel Nussbaum, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile
  • NyiMaTraShi, Tibet University, China・
  • M.B. Srinivas, International Institute of Information Technology, India・
  • Jan Carel Diehl, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • Umar Saif, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan・
  • Eduardo Grampin, Instituto de Computacion, Universidad de la Republica Uruguay, Uruguay・
  • Thomas Anderson, University of Washington, U.S.・
  • Suman Banerjee, University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.・
  • John Bennett, University of Colorado at Boulder, U.S.・
  • John Canny, University of California, Berkeley, U.S.・
  • Joseph Rosen, MD, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, U.S.・
  • Roni Rosenfeld, Carnegie Mellon University, U.S.・
  • Daniela Rus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.

Developed World

Developing World

2 MB Internet Connection

< $40

2 MB Internet Connection

> $4000

Bulk Data Transfer on the Internet

> 70%

Bulk Data Transfer on the Internet

< 15%

Digital Divide

Average End-user Bandwidth via ISP

> 100 kb/sec

Average End-user Bandwidth via ISP

< 10 kb/sec

internet in pakistan
Internet in Pakistan
  • Facts of life in the developing world
    • Internet used over dialup
    • ISP’s buy less, sell more
      • Economics
      • Politics
      • Lack of expertise
    • “Scratch card” provisioning
internet in pakistan1
Internet in Pakistan
  • Average Dialup Bandwidth
    • Less than 10 kb/sec
  • Almost Never Used for
    • Exchanging
    • Disseminating
    • Accessing

…. Content larger than a couple of hundred kibobyes

  • When was the last time you sent someone a 3.5 MB PDF file as an email extension?
how i stumbled upon this
How I Stumbled Upon this?
  • “Good research solves real problems in a practical way”
    • Started last year when I wanted to exchange a 3.5 MB PDF file with my dad
    • Two laptops sitting next to each other
    • No way to exchange data if you don’t have portable storage!
      • We actually went our and bought a CDR to exchange data….



~ 56kb/sec


Bypass the Internet when exchanging large


~ 56kb/sec

email attachments
Email Attachments
  • Time to exchange a 3.5 MB file on the Internet ~ 1 hours (16 Kb/sec)
    • 30 mins upload and download
    • Assuming no disconnections
  • Time now (40 kb/sec)
    • 12 mins!!
disruptive technology
Disruptive Technology
  • Of course Internet also started as an overlay over the phone lines
  • A new kind of Internet
  • Reminiscent of Pre-Internet days
    • FidoNet
    • UUCP
why is this practical
Why is this Practical?
  • Phone bills are becoming “Flat”
    • Rs 300/month -- free local calls
  • As long as you can identify a “close-by” host, “broadband access” is free
  • P2P systems already follow a similar model
    • MIT Chord, Microsoft Pasta
dialup p2p isp interleaving
Dialup P2P-ISP Interleaving

Key Idea: Use Internet as a directory service, not as digital pipe




Line-speed (~40kb/s) dialup connections

Peer-to-peer dialup connections

Dialup Underlay

our p2p dialup architecture

Internet Client Applications

Content-Push Applications

Application Plugin


Suspend-resume Session Layer

DHT Caching, Indexing and Lookup

Push subsystem

Interleaving Heuristics

Pre-fetching heuristics

Operating System

Bypass Protocol Stack

Dialup Link Layer

Our P2P Dialup Architecture
three evolving applications
Three Evolving Applications
  • P2P file-sharing
  • Unrestricted Email exchange
  • Web-browsing

…. in increasing order of difficulty

making bittorent work here
Making Bittorent Work Here
  • 30% of the Internet traffic
    • Less than 5% in Pakistan
  • Tit-for-tat Inherently “unfair” to dialup users
  • Make bittorent “sequential”
    • Sequential instead of parallel downloads
    • Backward compatibility by using a parallel “tracker” net
    • Our tracker does match-making of “offline” hosts
email access
Email Access
  • Email attachment transfer will be layered on top of p2p access
    • Attach a file
    • “Securely” publish it on p2p
    • Recipient downloads in piece by piece
web access
Web Access
  • Trickier
    • Must emulate connected behavior
  • Do a recursive pre-fetch: Tools already exist
  • When to interleave p2p-ISP?
    • Scheduling policies based on user browsing patterns
  • Suspend-resume Download Manager
looking ahead
Looking Ahead
  • Several follow-on projects
  • Several collaborative efforts within the Digital Inclusion recipients
    • We are trying to put together a proposal with Berkeley
  • Launching a multi-disciplinary effort at LUMS for developing world ICT

Inverse multiplexing over GSM/GPRS/

High-bandwidth Virtual Channel

Figure 1: Inverse Multiplexing over cellular connections

  • Zero-configuration
  • Text-free Interface
  • Sensor-actuator
  • Cell-phone integrated
  • Shared Computing
  • Server-style processing