Mobile phones, developing nations, an amazing solution! (Article by Shane)

Alex Hudson home at
Sat Apr 22 09:45:02 UTC 2006

On Sat, 2006-04-22 at 01:18 +0100, Shane M. Coughlan wrote:
> I believe you're talking about the richest aspects of developing
> societies.  In many countries people are using standard terrestrial
> televisions to receive standard signals.  The cost of satellite
> technology is extremely prohibitive.  Certainly in Thailand, China,
> Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Brazil terrestrial
> television is very common.  I was referring to the low tech end of TV units.

I think that's a very simplistic point of view. Satellite technology is
not expensive by any means, if anything it's only marginally more
expensive that terrestrial technology.

Even in the countries you mention, satellite TV is actually pretty
popular. Over half of all households with TV in India have either
satellite or cable, for example (mostly satellite).

You have to remember that with satellite, reception is much less of an
issue. Particularly across large areas like Africa or South America,
satellite is often the *only* way you can receive TV. This effect is
particularly noticeable in the poorer rural areas - it's often the large
cities that have terrestrial coverage.

> > I'm not totally sold on the TV as an output device. Contrary to the
> > figures you quoted, the maximum horizontal resolution for text is
> > somewhere in the region of 400/500 pixels, sometimes less (many older
> > TVs start losing focus, which isn't noticeable on most TV programmes,
> > but very noticeable on computer displays). Plus, the 576 vertical
> > display isn't really either - it's 288 lines per scan, then interlaced.
> > Reading text on an interlaced screen can be horrendous. So, you're
> > talking somewhere nearer QVGA than VGA in my opinion, and mobile phones
> > are already at that resolution (I hear there's a VGA one coming out soon
> > too).
> On this point I don't agree.  Having used Sinclair Spectrums, C64s,
> Oracles and (my personal favourite) the Memotech, I have found
> televisions to be a decent - if imperfect - textual device.

I guess you mean Oric, not Oracle ;)

They're ok on a decent TV set. On a bad TV set, they're horrendous.
Teletext, for example, uses a really low resolution in order to be
readable on any TV. 

If you have a clean signal input, like composite or s-video, you can get
away with it. If you have to remodulate, you lose. In particular, a
modulator will never get the colour timing right, which causes it to
bleed horizontally.

It's not that I don't think the technology would work, but that it's
never really been used this way and I'm not convinced it's capable. It's
one thing for people to have used Atmoses and C64s in the past, but
those devices never had to display the web graphically - you can already
get phones with QVGA resolution that do that. Amigas and Acorns tried
doing it, and they were horrendously unreadable on anything other than a
good TV with a scart connection.



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