A Global Village
There are several attributes of the IPKO project that make it unique: -After briefly being operated as a project under the auspices of the International Rescue Committee, IPKO is Now being turned over to a local NGO with all local staff. This NGO is one of the first of its kind since new laws were implemented by OSCE and UNMIK late in 1999. -We connect to the Internet via satellite and mix dedicated wireless connectivity with dial up access. In March, 2000 we will begin offering dial up access. -The revenue from our paying customers (international agenicies, international NGOs, international business, local for profit companies) goes to supporting the free connections we provide to the local media, University of Prishtina, hospital, National Theatre and local NGO access center. -The three founders are all under 30 years old. -We are Not doNor dependent.
Previously Internet access in Kosova was controlled by ISPs based in Belgrade with Nodes in Prishtina. They could set prices and manipulate users. It was aNother of the tools used to control the people of Kosova. Before the war there was only one Albanian run ISP and they were forced to suspend service after one month because of the bombing. It is a sign of independence from Belgrade to have a system such as IPKO that operates via satellite and connects to the Internet backbone in the US.
In Prishtina our international customers have been able to cut their communications costs dramatically. This frees up core money to be used instead for project. In the first month of refugee return many NGOs had satellite phone bills of over $15,000 USD. One UN agency reports mobile phone bills of over $100,000 Swiss Francs. Much of this traffic has Now been transferred to email correspondence.
We have given the local media a jump start and made it possible for them to broadcast on the web to the diaspora and provide more international content to their local listeners.
Local NGOs with access at the local NGO Internet Center are better able to communicate with supporters and doNors outside of the region.
Local business has grown with 3 cyber cafes up and running adding much needed competition to the market thus causing pricing to drop.
Doctors at the hospital are able to download information to expand their kNowledge of their field. They are also able to communicate with supporters in the US who are leveraging donations of equipment.
We measure the results in several way.
Use of bandwidth by our customers. There has been a steady increase in the amount of bandwidth utilized which means Not only are more people using the system they are using it for more sophisticated applications than just email and web browsing.
Annecdotal evidence. Discussions with the beneficiaries of the free connections as to how they are using the system.
Please see attached copies of On the Record which profile how IPKO started.
When the refugees returned to Kosova after 3 months in exile there was a gap in the types of services available to them, the UN agencies and the humanitarian agencies helping them. Several friends and I decided to start an Internet Service Provider (www.ipko.org) that ran on microwave rather then through the phone lines that had been badly damaged by the war. We set out to design a system that would be take advantage of the huge amounts of aid money pouring in hoping to leave behind a lasting communications infrastructre once the aid agencies were gone.