VNL Participates at Mobile World Congress 2011 14 Jan, 2011

VNL announces its participation again at GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 14th – 17th, 2011.

VNL’s participation will announce the addition of broadband services as part of their award-winning WorldGSM™ solution worldwide – the solar powered GSM network infrastructure equipment specifically made for rural areas with ARPUs of less than $2. WorldGSM™ is the first commercially viable GSM system that is independent of the power grid. It runs exclusively on solar power and requires no diesel generator backup. It is also designed for simple delivery and deployment by local, untrained workers – all resulting in zero OPEX, dramatically lower CAPEX, and near zero maintenance.

The next billion subscribers will be coming from rural populations, away from saturated urban markets. If you’re planning on visiting Mobile World Congress 2011, stop by VNL’s booth and see the future of rural wireless telephony. VNL is changing the DNA of rural telecom by providing commercially viable new building blocks that will transform the way you build your networks in the future

Visit us in Booth #2B47 to learn more.

Also Visit VNL at:

  • June 21 – 24, 2011: CommunicAsia in Singapore, booth # 1H2-01

Eradicating Illiteracy and Innumeracy with Mobile Education 24 Sep, 2008

Very few advertisements have the knack of making an impact. For me, the Idea mobile ad (of educating rural children) is truly admirable for the social message it echoes.

While in urban India, cellphones are used for catching up with friends, closing business deals and connecting with our near and dear ones. In the rural scenario, mobile phones hold the potential of revolutionizing education.

In a country where the IT and telecom sectors are booming, the average literacy rate is 65%. Is there any way in which these profit-churning sectors are positively affecting the literacy levels?

Distance education is a familiar term for anyone who has pursued their degrees over the internet from a university based out of another state or country. So what is stopping us from localizing the concept of ‘distant learning’ to the grassroot level?

Limited funding and weak infrastructure are two of the major deterrents to the growth of literacy level in rural India. Education is secondary, as schools are not always located in close vicinity, and family obligations and chores dominate the lives of rural communities (including children). Yet, education can touch the lives of those who wish to learn; technology and telecom have already joined hands to make a difference to the lives of the rural youth.

The Lifeline for Education program managed by One World aims to provide academic support to teachers in rural schools in India – using accessible communication mediums like mobile phones. The system uses simple communication protocols to facilitate education in remote regions of the country. The program is servicing 13 panchayats, 164 villages, and 571 schools (as of March 2008) in the Monteswar Block in the Bardhaman district of West Bengal.

Another alternative is for teachers, volunteers and organizations to take the onus of adopting a village and ensuring that they make a difference to the literacy rates in these areas. For example, The Times of India’s ‘Teach India’ campaign created a positive wave in urban India and saw volunteers from every walk of life come together and make a difference to the way that knowledge is shared. It is time to replicate this model in rural India and use mobile phones as a medium to reach lives untouched by the gift of education.

Research company Global Equities has projected that education could amount for 20-25% of iPhone sales in the next few years. No doubt India has a long way to go, but if the public, the corporates and the government collaborate, it is definitely a good time to start the journey.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen sums up the need for education in ten words: “Illiteracy and innumeracy are a greater threat to humanity than terrorism.”

Further reading:

Microtelecom = business sense 11 Mar, 2008

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”.