Information and Communication Technology Policy in Mongolia
Director of the Information Programs Mongolian Foundation for Open Society
In the networking age, every country needs the capacity to understand and adjust global technologies for local needs. In the mid-seventies, the Government of Mongolia was giving much emphasis to science and technology information, having State Committee on Science and Technology and research institutions underneath.
The main purpose of the State Committee was to focus on the provision of the science and technology information mainly received from academic institutions of former Soviet Union and socialist system countries. A number of the policy regulatory documents were developed to address the issues of the science and technology information.
The transition to a market economy has changed Mongolia with the economic strategy of the country more focused on first priority issues, rather than on the issues of the use of information and communications technology. In the late 1980s and 90s, the emphasis was more on the communications rather than information and technology.
This changed in the mid-90s when the first Internet service provider introduced Internet and its services to the citizens of Mongolia. Since then, a number of computer companies operating in the information and communications technology area have increased dramatically and the types of services were following the trends of the world ICT development.
These changes increased the need to address information and communications issues and the first Working group on Internet issues chaired by Mr. Badral, advisor to the Prime Minister was set-up by the decree of the Prime Minister. The objective of the working group was to address the issues of policy and regulations in Mongolia. Even though the Working group has not developed any particular documents on ICT, the fact that the Government of Mongolia attempted to address the ICT issues at the Government level showed the emphasis to this issue in terms of addressing the Digital Divide and providing Internet access.
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The Digital Divide in the Gobi Desert: Spatiality, the National Identity Collapse, and a Language Gap
Undrahbuyan Basaanjav, Ohio University
No research has been conducted to examine how people in the countryside of Mongolia use the Internet and what social and cultural influences the Internet bring to these people. This study focuses on the geographical and cultural aspects of the digital divide in the Gobi desert of Mongolia. In this paper, I argue that the Internet brings a sense of mobility to people in remote Mongolia, which lets them move through social spaces. In the Gobi Desert the Internet has begun to break the geo-spatial notion of local vs. global. People in the Gobi Desert already use instant and mobile phone messaging to break the main narrative of social hierarchy. The change in the notion of spatiality undermines the notion of national identity. I also argue that the accessibility of information exacerbates the national identity gap between rural and urban areas in Mongolia. Finally, this study explores the relationship between social space, technology and language. While the Internet changes the notion of physical and social spaces, language barriers remain.
In-depth interviews were conducted through interactive chat and over the phone with an expert group in the Gobi Desert. Also the author was involved in the process of establishing the Internet café in the Gobi desert.
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Satellites Address the Digital Divide
Social and Cultural Issues