that speeds internet access by up to 35 times has been developed to help people in poor countries go online.
BBC News Online science and technology
Aidbase, which currently exists as a working prototype, is one of a range of pieces of software under development by the Aidworld team, associated with Cambridge University.
Satellite telephones are vital for communication in remote areas
"Aidworld is developing lightweight software to take the world wide web world wide,"
said Tom Corsellis, Aidworld's founder.
The Aidbase software, which
will be free to use, is aimed at the vast majority of the world's population, well over 90%, not yet online.
A significant proportion of these people have access to a landline.
to bridge the digital divide instead of talking about it," Dr
The software, demonstrated
at Aidworld's website, works by stripping out graphics and simplifying
the format of web pages, leaving just the lightweight text.
It is designed for use on internet
connections running either over satellite telephones, where connection
costs are ruinously high, or poor-quality landlines, where the connection
may break at any moment.
Aidworld hopes that by initially making the software
available to aid workers, the technology will be adopted by
others in the developing world who need access to web-based information.
Going online in developing countries can be a slow process
"We're working with the international aid community to develop, test and disseminate our bridges to the digital divide" said Dr Corsellis.
The project has been endorsed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and aid agencies including Care, Save the Children Fund and the Red Cross, which has also offered funding.
Stripping out the frills
Aidbase acts like a window on the web through which only text can be
Users access the fast and lightweight Aidworld website and then view
other websites through it.
The Aidbase software is able to strip out all of
the frills and compress the text automatically, much faster than it
would be possible if the user wanted the original website.
Dr Corsellis says that the
idea for setting up Aidworld came from working in the field as an aid worker and being
cut off from crucial information stored on bandwidth-hogging websites.
"As an aid worker, I often find myself in the eye of the storm, with limited access to my colleagues and to the web.
"Aidworld seeks to connect people to each other and to the web," he said.