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Impact of Mobile Telephony on Rural Marketing 25 Feb, 2009

India’s overall economic growth has dramatically increased rural India’s purchasing power. Marketers are now looking at smart ways to reach the rural market. Some Indian companies have modified their offerings specifically for the needs of rural markets.

Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) is a good example with successful rural marketing projects like ‘Project Shakti’ and ‘Operation Bharat’. The main emhasis of HLL’s strategy has been to focus on penetrating the market down the line and focusing on price point. Hindustan Lever relies heavily on its own company-organised media. These are promotional events organised by stockists.

Coca Cola India entered the rural market by introducing bottles priced at Rs. 5. The campaign was backed with ads featuring well-known actor Aamir Khan. During the Aamir Khan ad-campaign, they also used local language in advertising. A combination of TV, cinema and radio was used to increase the reach to rural consumers. Coca Cola have also used banners and posters, and tapped many local forms of entertainment. Because of the common lack of electricity and refrigerators in rural areas, Coca Cola provides low-cost ice boxes — a tin box for new outlets and thermocool box for seasonal outlets.

A thorough understanding of the rural consumer is a crucial key to rural marketing success. Rural marketeers also need to take the large diversity of customs and language into account. Ideas and techniques used in urban areas just won’t work for rural consumers.

Mobile telephony can better enable rural marketing in the following ways:

  1. Better understanding of the rural consumer – Marketers need to understand the psyche of the rural consumers and then act accordingly. Traditional broadcast media (television, radio etc.) is not interactive, which means you can’t get any inputs from the consumers. Mobile media can change this and help marketers in better understanding of the rural consumer. With the advent of rural telephony, market research companies can conduct telephonic surveys and interact directly with rural consumers.
  2. More effective marketing communication – This includes messages and related media used to communicate with the market. Television has made a great impact and a large audience has been exposed to this medium. But since TV programmes are also produced for the urban population, marketers have to make a choice between rural and urban. With the advent of mobile telephony in rural markets, marketers can use this channel to provide customized communication directly to their target markets. One example solution is to send voice-SMS in the regional language.

Clearly there are many advantages to marketers if the mobile telephone density increases in rural India. With VNL’s solar powered GSM system – WorldGSM™ – mobile operators can finally provide rural mobile telephony services to India’s villages. This will in turn will enable better rural marketing specifically designed for rural consumers.

Further reading:

PRESS RELEASE: Zero Opex Network Unveiled 17 Feb, 2009

First commercially viable solar powered GSM system for rural areas with ARPUs of less than $2 showcased at Mobile World Congress 2009, Barcelona.

BARCELONA, FEBRUARY 17, 2009 – VNL today unveils WorldGSM™, the world’s first solar powered GSM system specifically designed to enable mobile operators in the developing world reach remote rural areas – and still make a profit.

For years, operators and GSM equipment vendors have struggled with the same problem: traditional GSM equipment is not designed for the unique challenges posed by remote rural areas. It costs too much, is too expensive to run, uses too much power and is too difficult to deploy (especially in areas with no electricity, poor roads and a lack of trained engineers).

VNL has spent the last five years re-engineering GSM to overcome these challenges. The result is WorldGSM – the world’s first truly environmentally sustainable mobile network.

The use of solar power not only drastically reduces operating expenses for mobile operators but also contributes to a much lower environmental impact. VNL estimates that mobile networks in India alone require two billion litres of diesel every year to power back-up diesel generators.

VNL’s WorldGSM uses solar power as its single energy source – no diesel generators required. It is made for simple delivery and deployment by local workers – all resulting in zero opex, dramatically lower capex and near zero maintenance.

Sharifah Amirah of Frost & Sullivan says;

“VNL has opened up a whole new area of subscriber and revenue growth for operators. They’ve built a commercially viable GSM system to service remote, low-density rural areas.”

WorldGSM won the “best technology foresight” category at the recent World Communications Awards. The system will be commercially available later this year.

OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO RURAL MARKETS

WorldGSM overcomes the many barriers to serving rural markets without making any unnecessary compromises. The system integrates with existing GSM macro networks and extends them into previously unreachable rural areas. It is 3GPP compliant and compatible with all standard handsets. The highlights:

  • Zero opex – made possible by major reductions in power consumption; allowing for the use of solar power as the single energy source. No diesel generators are required.
  • Low capex – priced at less than a quarter of traditional GSM base stations so profitable at very low densities and ARPU levels.
  • Rural-optimized and easy to transport – compact and rugged; can even be transported on bullock carts.
  • Self-deploying and near-zero maintenance – easily installed and maintained by local workers.
  • Solar powered – needs only 50 – 120W per base station compared to the 3000W required for traditional GSM. Each site can be powered by a 2-8m² solar panel, rather than the 200 m² panel required to power a traditional GSM base station.

WorldGSM also opens up a new microtelecom business model – involving microfinance – where operators can partner with local entrepreneurs to accelerate deployment and reduce costs still further.

Anil Raj, VNL Board Member, says;

“We have overcome all the challenges of providing GSM networks in rural areas. Now operators have a truly viable way to build profitable networks to connect the next billion mobile users.”

In some cases, VNL will bundle its networks with other mobile equipment, such as phones and solar-powered chargers, that offer a missing link in the rural telecom ecosystem. Jouko Häyrynen, CEO of the Finnish innovator Suntrica (www.suntrica.com), says;

“We share a common vision with VNL: to change the way the world powers growth and development, and to do it affordably. WorldGSM is an exciting business case.”

WorldGSM can be seen at VNL’s booth – Hall 2, booth 2B69 – at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

For more information, visit the company website at www.vnl.in or contact VNL’s PR representative Bridget Fishleigh (+44 7946 342 903, bridget@nomadcomms.com or Skype: bridgetfishleigh).

ABOUT VNL

VNL (www.vnl.in) – the innovator of zero opex networks and pioneer of microtelecom – helps mobile operators reach rural markets profitably. The management team includes telecom industry veterans with vast experience in bringing products and services to entirely new markets. Its Chairman and founder, Rajiv Mehrotra, started the Shyam Group of companies and established some of the earliest GSM, CDMA and fixed networks in the country that serve millions of people today.

MWC DAILY: “The Dawn Of Microtelecom”

A new paradigm for rural markets.

While the mobile industry engages in a kind of arms race to deliver the latest high-speed data services, a quiet revolution has begun on the edges of today’s mobile networks. It’s called microtelecom and it’s completely changing the way operators think about some of the largest untapped markets in the world.

Read the complete article (PDF) »

Meet VNL at Mobile World Congress 14 Feb, 2009

This is the time of the year when everyone in the telecom industry gears up for the premier annual event – the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, 16-19 of February.

VNL has dual presence at this year’s congress. Our main booth is located in Hall 2 (B69), and we also have a booth in GSMA’s Green Zone (in Hall 2 as well).

Our participation this year is quite special as we will showcase our award-winning WorldGSM™ system - the solar powered GSM system for rural areas.

As a regular reader of the VNL blog, you already know that WorldGSM is the first commercially viable GSM system for rural areas with ARPUs of less than $2. That it uses solar power as its single energy source – no diesel generators required. And that it’s made for simple delivery and deployment by local workers – all resulting in zero opex, dramatically lower capex and near zero maintenance.

The bottom line: mobile operators now have a way to provide mobile services to rural communities in the developing world – and still turn a profit.

WorldGSM also opens up a new microtelecom business model – involving microfinance – where operators can partner with local entrepreneurs to accelerate deployment and reduce costs still further.

If you’re a mobile operator, you’re well aware that your urban subscriber growth is flattening out, and that you’re going to have to look further afield for your next million subscribers. So if you’re planning to visit the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, save half an hour for us. We’ll show you something that will completely transform your thinking about how to profitably reach your next million subscribers.

You’re very welcome to visit us at Hall 2, Booth B69. We look forward to seeing you there!

Dagens Industri: “Ericsson Veteran Makes Base Stations à la IKEA” 13 Feb, 2009

Indian VNL, with a subsidiary in Sweden, wants to sell mobile telephony to people in a country without roads. A gigantic, but poor, market.

The company’s energy efficient and inexpensive mobile system is being launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.

“It’s like Ikea, the customers assemble it themselves”, says VNL Board Member, Anil Raj.”

Download the complete article (in Swedish) »

Meet VNL at Mobile World Congress 12 Feb, 2009

This is the time of the year when everyone in the telecom industry gears up for the premier annual event – the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, 16-19 of February.

VNL has dual presence at this year’s congress. Our main booth is located in Hall 2 (B69), and we also have a booth in GSMA’s Green Zone (in Hall 2 as well).

Our participation this year is quite special as we will showcase our award-winning WorldGSM™ system - the solar powered GSM system for rural areas.

As a regular reader of the VNL blog, you already know that WorldGSM is the first commercially viable GSM system for rural areas with ARPUs of less than $2. That it uses solar power as its single energy source – no diesel generators required. And that it’s made for simple delivery and deployment by local workers – all resulting in zero opex, dramatically lower capex and near zero maintenance.

The bottom line: mobile operators now have a way to provide mobile services to rural communities in the developing world – and still turn a profit.

WorldGSM also opens up a new microtelecom business model – involving microfinance – where operators can partner with local entrepreneurs to accelerate deployment and reduce costs still further.

If you’re a mobile operator, you’re well aware that your urban subscriber growth is flattening out, and that you’re going to have to look further afield for your next million subscribers. So if you’re planning to visit the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, save half an hour for us. We’ll show you something that will completely transform your thinking about how to profitably reach your next million subscribers.

You’re very welcome to visit us at Hall 2, Booth B69. We look forward to seeing you there!