In the late Nineties, the telephone company in Malaysia, together with a Malaysian university and money from the Canadian government, created a pioneering Internet access project in the remotest highlands of Borneo. The residents of the village of Bario there received a computer, a generator and a satellite terminal, which connected them to the Web for the first time. The impacts were striking. Teachers used the Web to show their students the world beyond the Borneo jungle. Traditional medicine gained a helping hand from remote doctors. Bario is renowned in Malaysia for the sweet fragrance and taste of the rice it grows. Through the Web, farmers learned the true value of their crop, which gave them new bargaining power with local middlemen.
Information easily available to urban residents – schooling, healthcare and markets – leaped across the sparsely populated highlands with the help of a satellite link. It was funded by government largesse rather than market forces, but it radically transformed the quality of life in Bario for the better.
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