This book addresses the challenge of extending communication networks to rural areas in developing countries. Given the high cost of deploying telecommunications infrastructure, governments and industry have little financial incentive to extend such networks. Telecommunications providers are reluctant to place public access telephone booths in rural areas, due to initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs. Governments, through their regulators, often place “Universal Access” requirements on providers. These requirements result in an infrastructure investment that can make access available to some degree. Such services typically operate at a loss, and providers maintain them as a duty to their licensing obligation.
High initial infrastructure investment, relative low call volumes, high maintenance costs due to harsh environments, cash box collection needs, cash security costs (for coin-operated phones), card availability (for prepaid airtime systems), technical illiteracy, remote locations and high transportation costs are just some of the obstacles to providing rural telecommunications access. “Village Phone” addresses these issues, indicating a profitable new market niche for telecommunications companies, new and profitable micro-enterprises for rural poor Village Phone Operators, and affordable and accessible access for communities.
Action Line 2 of the Geneva Plan of Action: “Information and communication infrastructure: an essential foundation for the Information Society” states that infrastructure is central in achieving the goal of digital inclusion, enabling universal, sustainable, ubiquitous and affordable access to ICTs by all”. This publication contributes to this effort by establishing a template for creating sustainable initiatives that bring telecommunications to the rural poor, create viable new businesses for micro-entrepreneurs, and expand the customer base of telecommunications companies in a profitable way.
This project has been submitted to the Golden Book database.
WSIS action lines related to this activity: Theme 2. Information and communication infrastructure
Theme 6. Enabling environment
Theme 11. International and regional cooperation
Theme 13. Digital Solidarity Agenda (PoA, Section D)
Related MDGs: MDG 1. Eradicate poverty and hunger
MDG 8. Develop a global partnership for development
Completed: 2005 -
United Nations ICT Task Force, Grameen Foundation USA, the World Bank