The big news in coming from Afghanistan is that there will be a satellite provider online soon. From the redoubtable / indefatigable Mike Dawson of Paiwastoon:
Here at Paiwastoon, we anticipate that the availability of fast and affordable satellite broadband is will be an IT game-changer for Afghanistan, where many remote areas are still without Internet coverage. Though fiber optic cables are currently being built, progress is slow and coverage is still spotty.
Because YahClick is satellite rather than terrestrial-based, it is a relatively swift solution to get more Afghans on the Internet now. Satellite broadband Internet is also a good thing for government and businesses, as it limits the expenses associated with traditional Internet infrastructure like fibre and copper lines. Instead, anyone can connect to YahClick’s satellites with a small dish and modem.
OK. I work more or less in this sector. I've visited a _number_ of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past several years. All of them are transitioning from VSAT to mobile broadband. Some of this results from fatter backbone -- the Africa Coast Europe (ACE) cable -- while a lot of it results from demand, potential profits, and better regulatory environments. (Three cheers, cheers with gusto, for better telecoms regulations!).
It's sobering to reflect that in Afghanistan, mobile broadband isn't the deal. VSAT is the deal. No cheer. While Mike D can give love to VSAT, for reasons that are valid in context, VSAT is an early-stage transitional technnology, and one that 90% of countries, maybe 95% of countries, are moving past as fast as they can. It's broadband of first resort. (All VSAT comms must transit ~36,000 km up and 36,000 km down before they even reach an earth station [don't ask me how I know this]; most VSAT customers rent one or maybe two channels; comms are inherently bounded by the distance the signal travels, but as demand grows even these tired channels become chokepoints.)
(Visit western Indonesia. Take your tablet. But send a postcard.)