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Remote connections

Rural communities still lacking connectivity in Africa

Equipment vendor Nokia Siemens Networks has signed an agreement with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) with the aim of bringing affordable connectivity to the world’s rural and remote areas.

The recently formed partnership forms part of the ITU’s Connecting Villages initiative and will see NSN provide its Village Connection platform and expertise at no charge.

Almost three billion people live in rural areas with little or no access to communications infrastructure, and the vendor’s Village Connection platform consists of specially built, compact GSM access points that a local community can use to provide individuals or families with a mobile connection for as little as $2 per month.

In addition, the Village Connection introduces a novel business model, whereby access points can be owned and managed by a local entrepreneur providing opportunities for rural employment. This local point of presence can subsequently be used to promote basic services such as healthcare, and to market microfinance and agricultural services, creating rural economic activity.

The ITU is leading the project, working with the governments of participating countries to ensure a supportive policy, regulatory environment and administrative support, in addition to seeking financial support from heads of state and other potential donors or partners. The ITU will also work to secure support from local mobile operators to make supporting infrastructure and facilities such as electricity and network connections available, as well as supporting the development of local services.

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“We share a common understanding of the importance – and challenges – of connecting the next billion people to each other and to the world of information,” said Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer, Nokia Siemens Networks. ”Our Village Connection is aimed specifically at meeting that challenge: a low-cost, energy-efficient platform that can help spur socio-economic development in previously unconnected areas.”


One comment

  1. T Stein 17/11/2009 @ 1:32 pm

    Dear Mr Suri
    While I have always admired NSN rural and emerging market drives, they still do not solve the most vexing and challenging problem in the cellular operator world today….. How 2 earn when there is nothing to spend?
    At 2$ per month ARPU …this a wake up call cellular carriers are reluctant to answer and in fairness it is an almost impossible situation they find themselves in. Customer acquisition and administrative costs alone prohibit profitable service provision on this large a scale Despite the Village Connect.n platform…. how do the network bean counters figure out ways to profit from the unprofitable?

    Do u really believe that lowering and lowering the tariff is a profitable service solution 4 the nxt 03bn. Acquision and service costs alone prohibit this. They going 2 beep and slam the network till kingdom come, it’s the 1 market segment where bringing them on2 the grid on the current cell biz model will threaten the survival of the host.

    This segment r never going 2b legitim8 call candidates.

    Need 2 rethink the model.

    In doing the math the real parameter missing in their equations is behavioral rather than computational…

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