Communication for Development practitioners often talk about the importance of experiencing and reflecting upon communication processes. We tend to give more attention to catalysing and analysing communication processes than to the media products that result from those processes. "Process over product," is a phrase we often use. The process of collecting and editing the papers in this book was a unique communication process experience and it deserves mention here, together with appreciative words to all those who kept the process alive.

While many telecommunication experts talk about rural areas as the "last mile of connectivity," we agree fully with the "first mile" wisdom of Titus Moetsabi of the Southern African Development Community's Centre of Communication for Development in Harare, Zimbabwe. Titus suggests that, from the perspective of someone living and working in a rural area, we must change our language to reflect the need for a more progressive and aggressive way of characterizing the need for improvements in rural telecommunication systems around the world. Titus was the first to coin the term "First Mile of Connectivity" to challenge the prevailing notions that rural people, rural communities and rural infrastructure are always backward and always last.

In producing this book, we were able to experience the reality of working at the "First Mile," with the help of "First Mile" rural telecommunication systems. The bulk of the early collection and editing work was accomplished via the Internet, with Lynnita Paisley working at the Don Snowden Program for Development Communication in Canada and Don Richardson working in a rural area of the Nile Delta at the Development Support Communication Centre in Dikirnis, Egypt. We had the opportunity to put a rural telecommunication system in a developing country to the test: it passed with flying colours. No matter where we happened to be working, we were fully connected to the world through copper phone lines, modems, microwave systems, satellites and fibre optic cables. A great deal of the technical credit must go to the staff and management of Internet Egypt, surely Egypt's best Internet service provider.

Via the Internet, the papers in this book flew around the globe, stopping in Canada and rural Egypt for us to apply our editorial judgements. We were able to work with contributors who were in resident in, or travelling in, places such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Italy, England, Australia, Haiti, Northern Labrador, Switzerland, Chile, and various parts of the United States. A significant number of the contributors submitted their papers from within the rural areas in which they live and work.

There are numerous people to be thanked for enabling us to produce this book. The person who provided most of the inspiration for the book, and to whom the book is dedicated, is the late Don Snowden. Despite an incredible contribution to the field of communication for development his writing was rarely published, and it is a privilege to include one of his few manuscripts as a chapter here. His family and friends, through their support for the Don Snowden Program for Development Communication at the Department of Rural Extension Studies, University of Guelph, are helping to insure that his legacy is never forgotten.

L. Van Crowder, Senior Officer, Communication for Development, Research, Extension and Training Division (SDR), at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), deserves special credit for having the vision to conceive of a book like this, and to follow through and push us hard to complete it. Louise Fresco, Director, Research, Extension and Training Division, and William Lindley, Senior Officer, Agricultural Education, along with colleagues in FAO's Electronic Information Systems Working Group, Riccardo del Castello, David Dion, Lydda Gaviria, Philippe van der Stichele, Jon Anderson, and Wendy Truelove, provided many insights and a great deal of encouragement. Silvia Balit, the former head of FAO's Communication for Development Group, was always there with unyielding support and valuable constructive criticism.

Our colleagues at the Don Snowden Program for Development Communication and the Department of Rural Extension Studies at the University of Guelph continue to put up with the hectic travel schedules that go along with work in this field. Ab Moore, Jana Janakiram and Mohamed Abul Magd put up with Don Richardson's late hours while working together with Ibrahim Gamal and the staff of the Development Support Communication Centre in Dikirnis, Egypt. Early morning walks through the farms, and strong coffee at the village coffee shop, helped keep the job of editing focused… "shukran kateer!". Erika McMillan, Doug Pletsch, Ricardo Ramirez and Sue Rimkus provided much needed grounding in Guelph.

Friends, and fellow rural telecom advocates at those heavily "wired" private sector rural telecom groups, TeleCommons Development Group, Agribiz.Net, and SR Telecom, Helen Aitkin, Paul Graham, Darren Marsland, Graham Dyer, Dave Johnston, Pablo Leal, Ricardo Gomez, Dave Barr, Mark Lusignan and Joe Rubino were always at the other end of an Email message to help with logistics, technical background and positive vibes. Paul, Ricardo and Pablo's Email updates from rural telecommunication fieldwork in Haiti were consistently inspiring when received in rural Egypt. Mark's ever-practical focus on profitable and sustainable rural telecom services that achieve developmental goals is indelibly stamped on this book.

The list of people to thank could go on. Friends and colleagues at the International Development Research Centre, the Bellanet Secretariat, SR Telecom, the Southern African Development Community's Centre of Communication for Development, the World Bank, the Canadian International Development Agency, Zamnet, the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development all provided insights and inspiration at some point in the conception of this book. Johan Ernberg of the International Telecommunication Union deserves special thanks for doing so much to keep telecommunications for rural development issues clearly on the international agenda.

Our families deserve special thanks for coping with our professional passions. Thanks especially to Karen Kennedy for keeping the home fires burning on the Niagara Escarpment. Thanks, too, to the family at Laurenda - Gary, Elenor, and Matthew. Your support and perspective were needed and appreciated.

Don Richardson and Lynnita Paisley