The world’s rural population may not be rich, but their GDP is more than Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy combined.
The rural consumer in India cannot pay the $50 per month typical of London, Tokyo and Sydney. Nor can they pay the $7-10 per month typical of Delhi and Mumbai. But research and experience shows that they can and will pay around $3 per month today — even before the impact of communications increases their ability to pay.
So aside from the obvious environmental and social benefits, microtelecom makes business sense for mobile operators. Provided that the infrastructure is affordable enough – both in terms of capital expenses and operating costs.
VNL has developed a business model, summarised in the white paper “The Microtelecom Business Model”, which centers around local stakeholder entrepreneurs who partner with operators to deliver mobile services within their communities.
Similar models have been tried and tested in India, with examples of success ranging from the early telecom boom (based on local phone owners) to more recent Internet kiosks, cable television franchises and banking “correspondents”.