I've been really inspired to come up with a variety of means of support for South Africa in terms of the Internet and networking. The Great Enemy of All Mankind is the local privatised telecoms provider, and the price of bandwidth is truly absurd. As a result, creative means are generally put in place to avert paying an arm and a leg for data.
My business plan is simple - for R15 a month (or something along those lines), users are given access to an "intelligent proxy". This proxy determines the most popular downloads, and makes longer-term caches based on demand. Using ISPs which can intelligently route between local and international bandwidth, users can make use of the proxy for very little, and (because of the rich-club phenomenon of Internet downloads) probably have most of their largest downloads cached locally.
As the subscriber base increases, the amount that can be invested in (a) cache drive space and (b) international bandwidth costs increases, making the service more valuable as more members join, as the quantity of data cached will increase.
The intelligent proxy has several flaws:
- Streaming media is obviously going to present a problem
- Direct communication won't be affected - sending files via email/IM is not going to be helped
- Obviously, as the subscriber base increases, so will the demand for "niche" items. While Windows Updates will be common early on, DirectX 11 development libraries will probably only have a small following. These will be possible to pull later in the service as subscribers grow, but early on it will still pose problems.