Low-cost sustainable telecommunication infrastructure for rural communications in developing countries will include:
1) Low-cost trunk transmission lines to rural stations with sufficient bandwidth;
2) Wireless and wired networks connecting rural stations and end-users;
3) Low energy consumption cost effective infrastructure;
4) Solution should be easy to deploy and setup;
5) Solution should be robust and have low maintenance requirements;
6) The system should be environmentally friendly throughout its lifecycle.
The existing network systems, however, are primarily defined for urban areas where necessary support infrastructure (adequate power, building/shelter, accessibility, skilled manpower to operate etc.) for setting up a telecommunication network is assumed to exist. Hence the current systems do not meet the rural specific requirements and cannot be mass deployed.
Inadequate deployment of telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas in developing nations can be attributed to various challenges. Some of the known challenges are:
- Shortage of Power;
- Expense of maintaining power backup usually Diesel and environmental hazards thereof;
- Difficult terrain;
- Difficult access and transportation;
- Lack of skilled manpower;
- Installation and maintenance of networks is quite challenging and difficult;
- Very high operating cost, capital expenditure;
- Low potential ARPU;
- Sparsely populated and scattered population cluster.
These are some of the challenges that developing countries planning to spread ICT to rural areas must be prepared for.
The existing wired and wireless network systems are not defined to meet these challenges and hence have not been mass deployed in rural area. In order to have options of deployment of suitable network systems in rural areas, a suitable set of System Requirements should be developed addressing the identified rural challenges.
In addressing rural challenges, objective 2 of ITU-T in PP. Res. 71 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) must be noted that essentially instructs ITU-T to help close the digital divide by not necessarily demanding excessively high technologies.
Network systems for rural communications assist in adaptation to climate change by providing information about short-term extreme weather events and long term trends such as drought and monsoon. This information can help sustain water supplies and optimize irrigation systems to maximize crop yields. This issue will be studied in close cooperation with the Question S/5.
Furthermore, for the existing mobile network systems in all countries, it becomes important to develop guidance how to improve their resilience in disaster situations (e.g. hurricane, tropical storm, etc.).
The following Recommendation, in force at the time of approval of this Question, falls under its responsibility:
Study items to be considered include, but are not limited to:
This Question will identify, assess and consolidate the challenges faced by developing countries in setting up a low cost sustainable telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas of developing nations. These challenges should further be deliberated to extract various possible technological or engineering interpretations in order to convert these challenges into technical requirement options. This would become a base for system requirements evolution.
Evolution of system requirements for rural network system specifically addressing such identified challenges of rural deployment.
This Question will study the generic system requirements (independent of chosen transmission technology) for rural networks system including aspects related to deployment architecture, power consumption, power source, packaging, operation & maintenance etc. Moreover, all kinds of efforts will be needed for low cost efficient installation under difficult conditions in rural areas.
This Question will also provide guidance on the way to adapt to climate change and to improve the resilience of mobile networks in disaster situations.
Tasks include, but are not limited to:
The task would be to develop guidance on “Addressing challenges of setting up sustainable telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas of developing nations”. This would become a basis for evolution of system requirements (independent of chosen transmission technology). This will include energy efficiency and powering of network systems for deployment of telecommunication infrastructure in areas without access to electricity grid.
This would also be applicable to improve the resilience of mobile networks in all countries in disaster situations (e.g. hurricane, tropical storm, etc.).
This will lead to the drafting of Handbook containing best practices on these issues and Recommendations if needed.
An up-to-date status of work under this Question is contained in the SG 5 work programme (use URL as shown in the table below).
- ITU-T SG15
- ITU-D SGs
- ITU-R SGs