My name is Frank Ohrtman and my company, WMX Systems, LLC is consulting on a project for Palm Beach County (Florida) Schools (170,000 students) to build a WiMAX network that would cover the entire county bridging the didital divide there. Palm Beach County is hardly the 3rd World, however, one in three students have no internet access at home and in the schools there exists a ratio of 4.8 students per computer. I was invited to consult on the project as a WiMAX expert, but I can see that in order for any WiMAX network to be a success, there must be "no child left behind" in terms of internet access outside the school house. As a result, my consultancy has expanded to determine the best solution for the dollar in terms of student wireless internet access. To me, this project dictates that all students must have equal access to learning tools be they on any form of computer with any form of access to the internet or school intranet with myriad instuctional software applications.
My research so far indicates that the solution need not necessarily be the "$100 laptop" (especially in developed world markets). A brief review of the ads from computer retailers in US sunday newspapers reveals laptops for $400 with 100 gigabit hard drives, Windows Vista, and CD/DVD drives all of which could be pared down to arrvive at a $100-$200 laptop. Rather than "build it and they will come" a mantra for educators might be "demand it and they will build it". That is, if you create a viable market demand for a "$100 laptop", the industry will produce it. Geopolitically speaking perhaps that demand originates in the developed world and migrates to the developing world. That is, the demand for 250,000 $200 laptops in the US might drive a vendor/manufactuer to specialize in this field and bring an economically viable "$100 laptop" to the market.
The other piece of this equation is the need for WiMAX access technology in the laptop. I am communicating with PCMCIA reference designers and chip manufacturers to develop an access piece that will complement the low cost laptop and will work with WiMAX base station such that students will have internet/intranet access (and instruction) 7x24x365. I feel we might be a few months away from a "value network" of vendors/manufacturers that can produce at least a WiMAX PCMCIA or USB access device that will function with existing PCs/laptops and quite possibly new low cost or even "$100" laptops.
If you are working on a project that requires WiMAX access technology in a laptop or PC, feel free to communicate your need to me so that I in turn can communicate that to the vendors/manufacturers I am in communication with. The greater demand we can communicate to the vendor/manufacturer community, the sooner we will see product.
Frank Ohrtman firstname.lastname@example.org +720-839-4063 skype by appointment se hablo espanol mann spricht deutsche