Bandwidth bottlenecks at theUniversity of Botswana
Complications for library, campus, andnational development
David R. Gerhan
Union College Library, Schenectady, New York, USA, and
Stephen M. Mutula
Department of Library and Information Studies, University of Botswana,Gaborone, Botswana
– To examine the technical reasons for excessively slow internet speeds at the University of Botswana, to discover the present state of development efforts addressing such examples of thequalitative digital divide, and to recommend remedies.
– Surveys of students, the authors’ professional experiences,and reports from corporate, public, and intergovernmental organizations provided insights into theeffects – and causes – of internet slowdown.
– Bandwidth bottlenecks were identiﬁed in successive stages of intercontinental internettrafﬁc. Causes included network design and capacity, telecommunications regulations, and competingbudgetary demands within Botswana.
– Much of the literature on the digital divide has stressedplentiful hardware and internet connections in afﬂuent societies versus their scarcity in developingsocieties. This study illustrates that hardware and connections are necessary but not sufﬁcient foradequate online performance. Technological advance and development can each stimulate the other,and that two-way interconnection necessitates more than a simple call for more spending to increasedeveloping countries’ bandwidth. The paper presents recommendations in addition to higher funding.
– Student and other micro-level data serve as measures for the local performanceof a global utility, the internet. Tracking message transmission uncovers bottlenecks along the path of the intercontinental internet, speciﬁcally as it reaches Africa. These “street-level” approaches canassist the international aid community, the telecommunications industry, and the public sector inBotswana and elsewhere in removing obstacles to the internet as a potentially important tool fornational- and human-development.
Internet, Botswana, Developing countries
The people of Botswana proudly refer to their national university, the University of Botswana, as “U.B.”. As the ﬂagship higher educational institution in its land, UB is anup-and-coming institution of higher learning in a country ranked by the World Bank as“upper middle income” along with such nations as Brazil, the Czech Republic,
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Received June 2004Revised September 2004Accepted September 2004
Library Hi TechVol. 23 No. 1, 2005pp. 102-117
Emerald Group Publishing Limited0737-8831DOI 10.1108/07378830510586748