Mobile Phones Widen Market, Raise Incomes for Rural Poor

Monday, September 24, 2007

The mobile phone is enabling people at the bottom of the pyramid like balloon sellers and water melon vendors to widen their markets. The mobile provides the balloon seller timely information about the crowd gatherings, his potential market. The handset comes in handy for the watermelon vendor during the nine months of off- season to find work as repairman. Thousands of artisans are finding that the mobile connects them to their markets and even opens new markets for them.

These and other benefits of mobile phone in rural areas were the focus in the discussion on the projected expansion of the mobile phone network to 500 million subscribers by 2010, covering the interior of the country at the Telecom CEO Conclave organised by Bharat Exhibitions last week.

Video would be the most popular and relevant application in the rural telecom scenario and mobile service providers must go for multiple uses of the mobile phone based on a combination of voice and video, not so much data, leading telecom executives asserted at the CEO conclave here. “In the rural context, it would be voice messaging, not SMS, that would be popular” said Shri K Sridhara, Member – Technology DOT, Ministry of Communications & IT.

He rejected the contention that rural users are too poor to pay for mobile services, quoting his own personal observations in remote areas.

To meet the challenge of providing affordable mobile telephone services in rural areas in the face of expected fall in average revenue per unit and high cost of capital equipment and operation, telecom service providers must treat their service “as a destination and not a gateway” said Mr Stefen Rust, Global Head of Marketing & Strategic Development for Communications Media, Sun Microsystems. Sun Micro’s Java computer language is at the center of most mobile phone networks and enables different value added services to be run on these networks. There are over five million developers of Java across the world. “Video content constitutes 60 per cent of the telecom traffic,” he pointed out.

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Source: Cellular-News (link opens in a new window)