Using voice over IP to bridge the digital divide: a critical action research approach
Tucker, William David
Blake, Edwin H.
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There is a great disparity between those who have access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and those that do not. This phenomenon forms part of the Digital Divide. Many ICTs may be used to help overcome this divide if they are applied in a useful way, providing locally applicable content and services. Critical Action Research (CAR) is an approach used to develop such applications. CAR aims to empower people by involving them in the development process. Using CAR, this project investigates how Voice over IP (VoIP) may be applied in a productive way in an underserviced community. VoIP is an ICT used for sending voice over packet switched networks using Internet Protocol. It can be used to integrate data and voice to produce multimedia applications. In South Africa (SA), VoIP may only be provided by Telkom, the Second National Operator and the Under-Serviced Area Licensees. Using CAR and VoIP, an application is being developed to service a specific need of a particular rural community. The application will either provide a service to a small rural business or aid the provision of healthcare in rural areas. The project evaluates how well CAR integrates with a normal Software Development Lifecycle and makes policy recommendations for the use of VoIP in rural SA.