Why are the telecom players not venturing into the rural and remote?
While the world is gearing for 5G, which is yet to launch, Finland has already taken 6G or 6Genesis development to task. In such an advanced technological scenario, many countries, and regions within countries are bereft of 4G and 3G technologies. In fact, a lot of population still does not have access to any kind of connectivity, leave alone 2G.
The latest generations of telecom spectrum are mostly designed for deployment in the developed, profitable regions. But most of the world’s population is still developing, or has not even started developing. It is important to understand why the latest technologies are all swarming only in the developed regions, and why are the major players not paying attention to the mass rural and remote markets.
To begin with, infrastructure plays a very important role in the deployment of any technology. Most of the unconnected regions are inaccessible by any means of transport – even roads. Any telecom OEM will vouch for this fact, for they know how many mountains they have climbed to install a telecom tower. It is a fact, and it is what we have learnt – if the infrastructure of a location is not hospitable, most of the players back out, for the very simple reason – no profitability. Moreover, the costs of deployment and logistics overpower the potential returns.
Why will someone invest for negative returns? The latest generations of telecom spectrum are a result of years of R&D, involving billions of investments. And of course, you invest to profit, no blame games there. Who will then think of connecting the unconnected? Broadly, we can imagine two scenarios: 1) The government will do so, keeping ‘development’ as the main objective. 2) Private players will, if they see profit, or as a part of their CSR activity. But the story does not end there. There are more factors to consider.
Usage adoption is another factor. Citizens who have been deprived of connectivity since Adam’s years will not all of a sudden be comfortable to the technology. A gradual transition has to take place. This demands investment to educate the rural and remote users, into adapting to the nascent, complicated technology. The more the complications, the more the investment. Besides, the expert manpower will not venture into these areas without a high payoff. So, usage adoption needs deployment of not only technology, but highly skilled manpower to run these technologies, and even higher skills to educate the end customer.
Elaborating the above, most of the remote locations are scarcely populated, resulting in lowest possible ARPUs. Another factor to consider before making an investment (sic manpower, logistics, telecom equipment, operations and maintenance, education), right?
All of that said, we strongly advocate that connectivity is a basic right everyone should enjoy. Connectivity boosts productivity, attracts new talent, generates new jobs, brings the world at your doorstep!
And we also advocate that 2G technology is a viable option for rural and remote areas which are scarcely populated and have no infrastructure. For the very reason that our WorldGSM™ technology is highly affordable, gives a good ROI, is reliable, does not depend on electricity, our teams are trained to deploy networks in impossible and impregnable terrains, and our equipment is designed keeping in mind the ecosystem of the environment, and hence runs on sustainable, solar powered energy.
We have deployed 2G in such places, and have seen development speed up with inclusivity. We have seen people come back to their villages, and have started their own businesses, and helped their village grow to heights by providing accessibility and connectivity.