W3C to Pursue Improved Web Access in Developing Countries

From the W3C Press Relaeses

W3C to Pursue Improved Web Access in Developing Countries

“19 September 2006 — Today, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) invites experts to participate in the “Mobile Web in Developing Countries” Workshop in Bangalore, India, on 5-6 December 2006. Participants will discuss the challenges, requirements, and use cases for mobile Web access in developing countries. The Workshop will bring together experts in mobile Web technologies and specialists on emerging countries and the digital divide. To participate in the Workshop, please submit a position paper by email before 1 November 2006.

“While in some countries, mobile Web access is the latest must-have for executives, it is increasingly clear that it may play an important role in the development of some communities,” said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. “We must ensure that the Web is designed to meet the needs of sparser populations and of those whose only access to the Web may be on their phone. I look forward to hearing a wide range of views about requirements on Web technology particular to developing countries.”

This public Workshop is part of W3C’s Mobile Web Initiative, which aims to identify and resolve challenges and issues of accessing the Web when on the move. W3C thanks the Workshop host, Jataayu Software, one of the Mobile Web Initiative sponsors. Additional sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Mobile Web Seen as Means to Bridge Digital Divide

One important step in bridging the “digital divide” — the lack of access and ability to use information services by a portion of society — is the deployment of mobile networks around the world. According to the World Bank, more than two billion people own a mobile phone and 80% of the world’s population has access to GSM service. With one million new subscribers every day, almost four billion people will have a mobile phone by the end of 2010.

Although access to phone service is fundamental, W3C considers access to Internet services such as email and the Web vital for education, commerce, and communication. High speed mobile data networks and more affordable Web-enabled phones are helping to make this access possible in the developing world. For some, telephones may be the primary, or even sole, means to access the Web. In order to deliver Web standards that enable access for all, W3C is organizing this Workshop to learn more about the specific needs, expectations, and challenges faced by people in developing countries.

W3C invites your support for this Workshop through a three-tier sponsorship program designed to support participation by people or organizations who might otherwise not have the financial means to attend the meeting. Benefits of the Sponsorship program include public recognition of your commitment to the W3C mission. Sponsors reach those who are making decisions about the future of the Web, as well as those in the public who have come to rely on the Web as critical infrastructure for development.”