Various strategies can help mitigate these differences or eliminate the end user's cost entirely. The Internet itself, by institutionalizing communications facilities, can make the costs transparent to the end user. However, persons in developing nations often must limit their Internet use or drop their subscriptions to list servers because of cost.30 One biologist in Indonesia who dropped his subscription observed that the communication costs per month were considerably more than his salary and that his institution was passing these costs on to the end users. A number of Kenyan scientists have obtained calling cards from U.S. providers and are directly dialing the United States. The billing is to their Kenyan address. People in other countries also have adopted this strategy.

One current approach to reducing communication costs in African countries is the use of the message-forwarding Fidonet system, a low-cost network of individual computerized bulletin board services that uses regular dial-up telephone lines and high-speed modems to transfer electronic messages.31 Although most of Africa currently lacks direct TCP/IP Internet and WWW connections,32 individuals can send and receive electronic mail via the Fidonet service of the Association for Progressive Communications, a U.S. nongovernmental organization dedicated to bringing low-cost communications to developing nations throughout the world.33

On other continents, the situation is somewhat better with respect to direct Internet access. However, even where Internet connections do exist, access still tends to be spotty in all but the most prestigious or centrally located institutions.

For scientists in developing countries, another difficulty is competition for access to large remote data sets, which is made even more difficult by the increasing volume of data, particularly from new observational sensors. In addition, given the vast amount of data being collected, small data sets that they might contribute may be viewed as less important, limiting the ways in which researchers in the developing countries can participate in the scientific community. One result of such disparities is the perception by some scientists in developing countries that the OECD countries take information but seldom return it on an equitable basis.

Currently, developing countries severely lag the OECD countries in bandwidth for emerging applications.34 If the majority of communication in developing countries is wireless, end users may not be able to take advantage of the more bandwidth-intensive applications. Moreover, as noted above, problems arise even after advanced communication capabilities are installed. Transoceanic and intercontinental communication and exchange of scientific information must compete with all the other electronic traffic—increasingly business and entertainment. Unless bandwidth is improved, the ''information superhighway" becomes the electronic equivalent of many urban highways during rush hour. Furthermore, in many of the developing nations, the decreasing costs and increasing bandwidths that might be available generally are not passed on to the scientific end user by the government communications monopolies.



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