district is located in southeastern India. Outside the urban center of
Madurai City, economic activity is largely focused on agricultural
production, including sugar cane, rice, and ground nuts, and consists of
both dry and irrigated lands. The area has relatively good roads and
reasonable electricity infrastructure, yet limited telephone access.
The Pilot Phase of the SARI project is already providing internet
services to over 50 villages in the Madurai District of the Tamil Nadu
State and continues to grow.
New applications and highly localized content has been collaboratively
developed and is in use. Internet ready telekiosks are providing
villagers with applications and services in local languages (such as
Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi) that are geared towards entertainment,
health, education, empowerment, and economic development. While the
uses of the kiosks vary from site to site, some of the most
popular applications are transactions with local government, computer
education, and e-mail. There have also been notable successes in human
and animal health, and agricultural information.
The pilot project deploys in each community a multipurpose community
telekiosk. Each telekiosk includes a desktop PC, monitor, battery-backup
power supply, and wireless internet connection. Soon voice telephone
connections will also be provided via franchise arrangements with basic
service operations. The network technology is based on the corDECT
system developed at IIT Madras. Keeping the cost of the telekiosk low is
central to the project's self-sustainability. The current technology
suite is priced at approximately $1,000 per telekiosk. Many kiosks
boast additional computers, printers, and a web camera.
Separate connections have been provided to
schools, colleges, primary health centres, etc.