Multipurpose Internet Community Center

1. Introduction

The notion of Multipurpose Internet Community Center describes 7 years of Red Cientifica Peruana – Internet-Perú experience building an alternative model of national network in a developing country.

El modelo concentrado, basado en acceso telefonico, en computadoras domiciliarias y en el consumo de informacion ya existente – en general en ingles en los EEUU- esta basado en 67 telefonos cada 100 habitantes y algo mas de 46 % de hogares con computadora. En nuestro caso solo tenemos 1,671,002 telefonos incluyendo los publicos y solo 400,000 computadoras, la mayoria de estas concentradas

It is a center to do research, training , communicate, produce and exchange information and allows the general population learn and use new technologies. We also use this centers as the main strategy to create “critical mass” of users, produce local information and make possible “UNIVERSAL ACCESS” in a country with high telephony fees, 5.2 lines each 100 users and only 400,000 computers for 24 millions of population. .

Technically speaking, an Internet Community Center is a local network (LAN) with PCs connected to a server of the local network connected locally (WAN) to the Internet. It must have a training center also. The purpose of an Internet Community Center is offering users the possibility to access Internet tools, provide information and be trained the services are as many as the population can need or create using the imagination.

The project developed by Red Científica Peruana – Internet Perú is made up of Internet Community Centers with 20 working stations, a training center for 50 users, printers, scanners, video cameras and so on.


The goal of RCP is offering the largest amount of Peruvians the opportunity to exchange information, therefore the project includes the installation of Internet Community Centers throughout the country. These Internet Community Centers may be owned by (or be in charge of) Universities, Institutes, Schools, Municipalities, Government and Non-Government Entities, Business Corporations, etc., in other words and individual or institution that feels identified with the project and its goals.

The interest for the Internet and the possibilities offered by it that is shown by ordinary people constitutes a non-satisfied demand. From this point of view, the only consideration for an Internet Community Center location should be that it is easy to access to. However, it is considered that users are mostly concentrated near education centers (universities, schools, institutes, etc) or cultural centers such as libraries. It is therefore advised that Internet Community Centers be installed under cooperation agreements with such institutions in order to locate them within or very close to them.

According to the RCP-IP experience, the profile of Internet Community Center users is very broad, many of them are students of different ages and professionals in every field but they are also visited by people in general with all kind of motivation and some tourists.

The proposed strategy aims at transforming them in centers of cultural attraction, as well as research and information centers by promoting information lectures on the Internet, telecommunications and the use of these tools to develop other activities and improve the possibilities of the community. They will also be centers of training of the Internet and shall start a library with printed material, videos and software related basically but not only to the Internet issue.


Work and analysis has been done on 10 centers that contain public cabins and servers open to the public. Cabins have different origin and diverse type of functions. Some of them are from provinces (Cusco and Trujillo) and the rest of them are in Lima. The Cabins have three types, RCP´s, public or institutional that work with RCP and private that may work with RCP or another server. LimaNet is a special case, it is not a public cabin and works with 12 servers. In an unusual way is doing well in business

A common aspect between all cabins is that they have been on the market for a short period of time. The oldest one is RCP´s, which initiated business in may 1994, and the newest one is InkaNet, which has been installed since June 1997. This fact will lead to the thought that the market is in a development process and that a lot of the things that happen now can be improved.

Even dough they have little time functioning, there are already two cases that have ceased their services: the Callao´s Municipal Library and SISE. The first one has a problem with their ROUTER and they do not have the budget to repair it. The second case has a bad managed debt, which have led them to temporal closing of businesses. This temporal period could be long.

Another problem that has pumped up in one of the cabins is machineries and equipment theft. There is a need to improve security and surveillance. Computers represent to a lot of people a symbol of “status” and there is an informal market that carries out transactions with used equipment and contraband that motives “thieves” since they count with people who buys the product.

Cabins are oriented for the use of College students. However, this sector is not enough to cover the expenses necessary for the use of Internet’s Tools. In many cases students will form groups and join up in a “common well” of money to access the Internet and obtain the information that they want, which sporadically is required from their professor in college.

Obviously, there are other colleges that have a higher exigency level, but they do not hold a proper module or the students connect themselves from their homes. The fact that the students use the Internet from their homes affects everybody in the family, since the phone line is always busy. The public cabins market will also offer their services to users who hold an e-mail address home. The advantage is that the connection from the cabin is usually faster, safer and the user counts with technical assistance. This facts adds to the increasing demand existing in this sector.

From the polls carried out in the Miraflores´s RCP public cabin and the Alternativa´s one, we can conclude that close to 2/3 of the users (78% in Alternativa and 64% in Miraflores) are young people from 18 to 30 years of age. There is a smaller sector (the rest) that being older have joined in with Internet. It is not probable that this part of the users will access Internet massively, over all because they fear changes. It is also known that a lot of businessmen have their enterprise up to date with technology but they do not touch a computer. This fact can be expressed as a generational resistance to change. In province’s this could be even worse.

The user that dominates the tools is the client of the future. He/she does not waist time and can satisfy his/her needs. He/she is calm, demands quality and a good working environment.

A sector that can potentially grow is attention to tourists. Globalization and world wide interconnection makes Internet tools interesting and more demanding. Tourists have a necessity to communicate and the easiest and cheapest way of doing it is through e-mail and Internet telephone.

The structure of a cabin follows a common standard. From a manargership or administration derive assistants, some for equipment maintenance and others to user’s attendance. Assistants vary between two or three people, depending on the number of machines available. If there exists a service for web page preparation or personnel capacitating (courses), there is specific qualified personnel for these tasks.

The inscription process for the cabin only works for experienced users that dominate the goods for the system tools. If it is not this way, the user leaves the service since he becomes aware that he doesn’t use appropriately the hours spent. It is better for this kind of user to rent the service for hours or temporally. Mechanisms with differential rates for temporal use could motivate a bigger interest in the user and at the end, with complete assurance, will lead them to the inscription. In Alternativa´s cabin, with 169 users inscribed, only 63 of them (37%) are up to date with their fees. In the Miraflores cabin case, there is a similar phenomenon, 174 users are up to date with their fees but the inscribed quantity is a lot bigger.

There are few cabins that do not have special rules for operation and service. Some are concerned that the users, most of all young people, do not enter to “forbidden” places. They watch and forbid the use of diskettes and in a lot of cases, to evade bigger problems, they have deactivated de drives. They try to maintain an order and in general guiding themselves with rules already elaborated, like Miraflores RCP.

The rules and their application are closely related to the records they carry. In the majority of cases they hold an assistance control, inscribers control, services control and accounting records. However, these controls are not use in a proper manner since they are not analyzed, and the analysis of these records could serve them to improve and overcome a lot of the problems that they suffer actually. For example, in the inscriber sheet some of the cabins ask for data related to the identification of the person but few of them ask for hobbies, career, etc. These things identify the user as a different person and lead to a more personalized attention to the client (which is what everybody wants).

In respect to the installed capacity, it varies from very small cabins like Callao´s Municipal Library (four computers) to Miraflores RCP with 36 computers. The installed capacity leads to a thought. Even dough is true that there should exist a minimum number of computers that make the cabin useful (equilibrium point), it is important to relate cabin’s size with effective demand. Perhaps a modular element will serve t, accomplish the optimum installed capacity.

In general, cabins bring the same services, the users are the ones who determine or should determine the service. One of the most used services is electronic mail and the other one is the Webb. Analyzing the user’s behavior through polls, carried out in Miraflores RCP and Alternativa´s cabins, the product which is used the most in Miraflores (Middle class sector) is electronic mail, whether in Alternativa (middle to low class sector) the product which is used the most is the Webb or navigator. The hypothesis is that Miraflores users have more contacts to relate with through e-mail, which is not the case for the users in Alternativa that are more interested in a different tool.

This last thought backs up the thesis that there is a need to locate public cabins in other places and in all of the Peruvian departments to achieve intercommunication between national users in an effective manner. If somebody does not have who and where to communicate, why would they want e-mail.

Service’s pricing is closely related to the thought about inscription or temporal use at the beginning, in order to exploit the tools available to the user. The rates range form totally free in the case of some universities (personnel from University of Trujillo does not pay for the first hour, tourists are not billed for receiving mail) to S/. 50 a month or inscription. Rates for hour range from 5 to 10 soles

With regard to new or potential products, a tool that is being used a lot and whose projection is big, is Internet telephone. Cabin’s potential and sustain is in the fax and telephone systems. The immediate and profitable use of the cabins can only be achieved expanding at low cost long distance fax and telephone services through Internet, for international, national and local use.

Managers from some cabins state that some tourists know well how to use this tool, since it is required a good regulation for it to work, with the advantage of the English language that gives them some privacy that can not be achieved by the local or national user. Solving these two problems will enhance its use.

User’s participation is only at the beginning. The one who knows doesn’t speak or ask, he only wants peace.

Technical problems are the more important ones. The “falls” for Internet access, low speeds of the system, line’s saturation, equipment maintenance are the more frequent ones. There are few people that think there are management problems. However, it is possible that these last ones have a major importance, in some cases critical, to understand the cabin’s actual situation.

It can be assured that the actual main problem in cabins is management. The managers do not have a business plan, and neither a permanent thought between the investment and the results. Cabins are the result of a “wave”. Managers are not working the market.

All of the above affects sustainability, since none of the analyzed cabins is giving it. All of them have problems to cover their operational costs. This is worsening since they have to pay, lots of them, the loan that have assumed for the cabin’s equipment. Little private enterprises are paying the price for initiation, but they are aware and expecting for the situation to change and are betting to be in a better positioning when the business reaches the top.

Some institutional cabins do not care about the market or profitability, which creates confusion for the user. If we relate this to the fact that they give the management to personnel without managing experience (“technical personnel”) it can be understood the reason for the actual situation.

But as we said at the beginning, there is a need to “make way” and for the little way to be made we predict good results and cumulative experience, essential to achieve good results.



The minimum elements required for the installation of an Internet Community center are :

a) Two-room premises: one for the working stations and another one to be the training area; plus a bathroom.
b) Furniture for the premises.
c) Security.
d) Equipment.
e) dedicated line for data transmission.
f) Registration with the RCP-IP as a dedicated line customer.

a) Local

The premises required shall have a minimum area of 50 square meters for the working stations (Internet Community Centers) and another 35 square meters for the training room where not less than 30 people can be comfortably seated facing a screen for image projection.

The area to be used specifically to access the Internet hosts the 20 working stations distributed in tables and the product and service administration and exhibition modules.

The area used for training shall have at least 3 meters high to allow image projection.

A bathroom is necessary in order to get an operation license.


For the Internet access area the following is required:

÷ 20 seats for final users.
÷ 3 comfortable seats for the operators.
÷ 20 lineal meters (approximately) of table for the computers.
÷ 1 piece of furniture adequate for user attention to be located in the middle of the room.

For the training area:

÷ 30 seats for people taking part of training courses.
÷ 1 table for the projector


In addition to the security that may be offered to the premises installing special fences and doors and hiring a watchman, it is advised that PCs are installed with a blocking system impeding to move and/or lift the machines from the tables.

The equipment necessary to operate an Internet community center is divided in two groups:

Training equipment:
÷ 1 projection screen
÷ 1 Super VGA video projector
÷ the elements above may be substituted by a big screen TV set and a TV Coder

Equipment for Internet access:

Item Quantity Description
1 1 Dial-UP server, UUCP, Web, FTP, lists, proxy, gopher, booth mail (imap)
2.1 GB HDD control. SCSI-II
BackUp Tape Unit
220v power supply.
Unix Solaris 2.5.1
2 1 Router (the model depends on the type of booth)
CISCO or 3Com router
Including transceiver and cable
3 0 Modems
33,6K US Robotics modems, with cables
4 14 Booth Working Station
PC Pentium 133 Mhz
SuperVGA 1MB
3Com network card
sound card (optional) and speakers
Keyboard, mouse
220 V.
Windows 95
5 4 Graphic Working Station (1 goes for Training)
Macintosh Multimedia
Sound card and speakers
Video camera
14″ Monitor
3Com network card
6 2 Web Graphic Working Station
(1 dedicated to RCP Webs)
Multimedia, microphione, speakers
Video camera
2MB RAM video
15″ monitor
3Com network card
7 1 SuperVGA projector
8 1 3Com 24 port concentrator
9 1 Full page scanner
10 1 laser printer (HP Laserjet or similar with 4 ppm)
11 1 UPS 1KVA
12 1 Installation of data network
13 1 Installation of electric network

Graphic No.2 Typical equipment distribution for Internet Community Centers

The graphic shows the typical equipment distribution. Usually the local service carrier installs and leases the synchronous modem for the dedicated line, which is connected to the router. It is advised to connect the laser printer to the network server in order to centralize printing and put it under the operator’s supervision. The scanner shall be connected to the working station that is better prepared for graphic tasks.


A dedicated line is the means used for data transmission connecting Internet Community Center with the RCP in order to provide access to the Internet. This dedicated line must be contracted from a service provider (local carrier), who will charge an installation fee and a monthly fixed rate that is independent from the traffic of data and the time consumed.

The band width of this dedicated line must be not less of 64 kbps with a guaranteed band width point-to-point connection. The use of Frame Relay is not advised since band width (speed) is not guaranteed as it is a “shared band width” and therefore depends on somebody else’s traffic.


Connection of the Internet Community Center to the RCP-IP through a dedicated line requires registration with the RCP-IP. The monthly rate gives right of connection to the Internet as well as the necessary support.

Registration to the RCP-IP means paying a monthly fee, which depend on the type of connection contracted..


Centros Comunitarios Internet (CCI)

1. Gerencia de Centros Comunitarios Internet

Este estará conducido por una Gerencia la que recibirá el mandato del Consejo de Administración para la definición de los objetivos y metas. Esta Gerencia efectuará una gestión centralizada respecto del funcionamiento de los CCI’s en cualquiera de sus tres modalidades (propias RCP-IP, comerciales y carácter social).

Esta organización contará con un área de administración financiera y contable, análisis y evaluación de solicitudes y operaciones.

1.1. Administración financiera y contable

Esta estará abocada a verificar el cumplimiento de las metas y obligaciones de carácter financiero y/o contable de cada una de las unidades de CCI.

Dependiendo del tipo de unidad se aplicarán los controles que pueden ser globales (relación costo – beneficio) o de cumplimiento de las obligaciones contraídas mediante el contrato de franquicia.

Todos los controles se establecerán mediante la aplicación de índices de gestión los que deberán responder a los estándares determinados en los requisitos de la “Franquicia” bajo la cual se abrirá cada una de las unidades.

1.2. Análisis y evaluación de solicitudes

La metodología para autorizar la apertura de una unidad de CCI implicará un análisis profundo respecto del cumplimiento de los requisitos que se establezcan en el contrato y procedimientos para el otorgamiento de la franquicia. Igual proceso deberán seguir los funcionarios que se hagan cargo de las unidades propias de la RCP-IP

Este proceso implicará el establecimiento de cursos de capacitación, pruebas de suficiencia, etc. del personal que se involucrará en todos los niveles dentro de una unidad de CCI.

1.3. Comercialización

La metodología para la apertura de cada una de las unidades y el funcionamiento de las mismas requieren de un fuerte soporte de comercialización que impliquen campañas de marketing unitarias donde se destaquen elementos comunes de todas las CCI’s y las opciones, productos, ubicaciones, etc. de cada una de ellas dentro de los segmentos de mercado a los cuales se encuentres orientados.

Esta área definirá las políticas de comercialización que se aplicarán y las características de cada campaña de acuerdo a los requisitos que se establezcan para las franquicias.

1.4. Operaciones

El mantenimiento, seguimiento y correcto funcionamiento de los sistemas y equipos instalados en cada una de las unidades deberán seguir un proceso estricto a fin de optimizar el uso de los equipos y mantener activas todas las unidades.

Adicionalmente la instalación de una nueva unidad que responda a los requerimientos establecidos en el contrato de franquicia, deberán ser controlados a fin de mantener la uniformidad en toda la línea de establecimientos.

2. Administraciones regionales

En forma paralela y por la magnitud y dispersión de los CCI’s se deberá establecer administraciones regionales a las cuales se les delegará la función de seguimiento de los CCI’s de su jurisdicción. Esta administración estará centrada en el nodo regional que contará a su vez con un CCI.

Estas administraciones reportarán a la Gerencia de CCI’s basándose en los parámetros definidos y las auditorías que se desarrollen en cada unidad.

Independientemente cada unidad deberá contar con las funciones de:

2.1. Atención a usuarios
2.2. Administración contable y financiera
2.3. Administración de personal
2.4. Comercialización
2.5. Operaciones
2.6. Capacitación

The administrative issues of the Internet Community Center include the following items:

Users :
÷ Account creation and maintenance.
÷ Payment reception.
÷ Hours of use of the service.
÷ Hours reservation.
÷ Print outs.
÷ Scanning.

Premises :
÷ Rent,
÷ maintenance,
÷ cleaning,
÷ security,
÷ operation licenses,
÷ payment for services.

Staff :
÷ Contracting,
÷ payroll,
÷ pays,
÷ social benefits burden,
÷ tax payment and withholdings,
÷ attention.

Equipment :
÷ Maintaining,
÷ repairs.

Network :
÷ Disks,
÷ Web pages,
÷ network operation.
÷ Connection to the Internet.
÷ Connection to the dedicated line.

Training courses :
÷ Course material,
÷ schedule,
÷ user assistance,
÷ trainers,
÷ course payment reception.

Other services :
÷ Paper stock,
÷ toner,
÷ diskettes,
÷ registration forms,
÷ Utilities administration (collection)

Others :
÷ Maintenance of bank accounts,
÷ stock of payment receipts,
÷ income tax,
÷ payments to the tax administration (SUNAT),
÷ payments to the municipality,
÷ payments to providers,
÷ maintenance of basic services,
÷ advertising,
÷ Statistics of about users and hours of use.


The following is required:

÷ 1 general manager : In charge of the administrative and financial part of the Internet Community Center.
÷ 2 technical experts in network management : they would work in two different shifts in order to offer permanent technical support to maintain active the network during the center attention hours and also to keep the server on line during the night.
÷ 1 assistant : with knowledge of Internet tools to help the users; he will also provide services such as to copy information in diskettes and7or print outs and scanned material for the users.
÷ 1 trainer : he will be in charge of the users training, material stock keeping, course scheduling and programming.
÷ Security Staff
÷ Cleaning Staff (booth and training area and bathrooms)


The Internet Community center shall offer the following courses:

Internet General Lecture Daily (90min) Free
Internet tools (WWW, Gopher, Telnet, FTP, etc) twice a week (6hrs)
Windows 3.11 twice a week (3hrs.)
Web Page construction once a week (3hrs.)
MS Mail, electronic mail three times a week (3hrs.)
Advanced navigation once a week (3hrs.)
Searching in the Internet once a week (3hrs.)
Pegasus Mail once a week (3hrs.)
Eudora once a week (3hrs.)

Original copies of the course material will be provided to the Internet Community Center for copy making. The Internet Community Center shall take care of the material provided as exclusive property of RCP-IP and cannot be sold without the expressed consent of RCP-IP; likewise, it may not use the total or part of the material for any purpose other than training at the Internet Community Center.


a) The technical experts in network management shall have a minimum experience in the operating system chosen to be used for the network service and workstations. These technical experts shall be trained in relation with the courses offered by RCP for network managers of Internet Community Centers (see RCP courses for ISP).

b) The trainer shall be prepared to teach the courses listed under COURSES. For that purpose, the trainer shall previously take those courses at RCP.

c) The manager shall receive basic information on Internet tools so that he has some knowledge of the business.

d) The assistant shall also know about how to use Internet tools.


÷ Dial Up Access (RCP Type Internet Community Centers only).
÷ Dedicated Line Sale (RCP Type Internet Community Centers only).
÷ Internet Community Center Permanent Users. Those paying a fixed monthly rate for a certain number of hours.
÷ Internet Community Center Eventual Users. Those paying for each hour of use.
÷ Diskette Sale. For Internet Community Center users to save their data.
÷ Printout Sale. Use of the booth laser printer.
÷ Scanning sale.
÷ Web page sale (construction and maintenance).
÷ Search service
÷ Fax service
÷ Photocopy service
÷ Typesetting service
÷ Book reproduction service upon request
÷ Rent of computers w/software
÷ Conventional public telephone service
÷ Internet telephone service
÷ Video conference service
÷ education services (courses, lectures, conferences, workshops)
÷ Special events
÷ Movies
÷ School training service (students and teachers)
÷ Radio-Link service (RCP Type Internet Community Centers)
÷ Service of Cafeteria, Sale of souvenirs, software, books and magazines



A RCP Type Internet Community Center will be the most important point of existence in each department and its objective will be offering access to the Internet together with other communication services to other types of Internet Community Centers.

This model of Internet Community Center will be able to provide access to different types of users, classified as:

n Dial-Up Users; they will connect through modem (telephone line), making use of public telephone network.

n Users with Dedicated Lines; they will have permanent access using for that purpose permanent links such as :

÷ Cables, through a Private Carrier Network laying a connection between the CCI-RCP and the final user by using its own infrastructure.

÷ Wireless, through user connection to a local radio access providing the service to his area.

The following is the equipment to be used for that purpose, starting from the main link received by this type of booth, that is the output to the Internet. It includes a main router with Ethernet port connected to a LANplex Switch to give connectivity to the different routers with synchronous outputs managing high-speed dedicated line connections and asynchronous ports to provide dial-up service; wireless routers installation is included for radio access.


This model of Internet Community Center will have a province coverage. These will be implemented in the main provinces of the country and will have a direct connection with Department Internet Community Centers through wired and wireless dedicated links preferable provided by a Private Carrier Network.

This model considers an Internet Community Center with features inherent for its purpose, i.e. a good performance connection and the equipment needed to supply this service (PCs for the users and servers).

This Internet Community Center will also have a dedicated connection through a digital radio link system allowing permanent on line connection.

It will only offer the service of the Internet Community Center and may not offer Dial-Up access, since its infrastructure will not allow it unless it obtains a license to be an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

The great advantage of this model is the short time needed to implement it and put it into operation since its installation offers no major inconveniences. These Internet Community Centers will be fed by the RCP Internet Community Center, unless geography makes it impossible.


This model considers an Internet Community Center with features inherent to its purpose, i.e. a good performance connection and the necessary equipment to offer this service (PCs for the users and servers).

This Internet Community Center will also have a dedicated connection through a digital radio link system allowing a permanent on line connection.

It will only offer the service of the Internet Community Center and may not offer Dial-Up access, since its infrastructure will not allow it.

The great advantage of this model is the short time needed to implement it and put it into operation since its installation offers no major inconveniences. These Internet Community Centers will be fed by the RCP Internet Community Center, unless geography makes it impossible.


The implementation strategy will be the establishment of 1000 Internet Community Centers throughout the country. The location of the Internet Community Centers must be carefully selected. It is important for them to be easily accessible to the users. The general guidelines for this are:

∑ To be near learning centers such as Universities, Institutes, Schools, etc.
∑ To be easily accessible through public transportation.
∑ To have independent access from the street.
∑ To have enough space to put a sign looking at the street.
∑ To be centrally located, preferably at the main square.
∑ To be near malls.

The distribution of the Internet Community Centers will be as follows:

Quantity Type of Internet Community Center
50 RCP
200 Commercial
750 Non-profit

A franchise scheme will be designed in order to grant franchises on the Internet Community Centers to other non-profit organizations and to the commercial sector.

Such franchises will include the following terms and conditions:

∑ Ten-year agreement
∑ Monthly payments
∑ Initial grace period
∑ Identification and use of the name RCP and “Centro Comunitario Internet”
∑ RCP will supply:
q Turnkey equipment
q Equipment replacement every three years
q Standard design of the sign
q Standard architectural design
q Attention schedule
q Service fees
q Special promotions
q Material for the courses

The term projected for the establishment of one thousand Internet Community Centers throughout the country is thirty-six months distributed from 1997 to 2000.


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