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FIT. Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology for the “other” 4 Billion. Umar Saif 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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Bridging the digital divide technology for the other 4 billion


Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology for the “other” 4 Billion

Umar Saifumar@mit.eduLUMS Computer Science Department

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

Thank you how can you help join http www dritte org questions umar@mit edu
Thank You!How Can you Help: Join http://www.dritte.orgQuestions: