Connecting the world’s rural communities

Date: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 14:00

ITU and Nokia Siemens Networks provide expertise and equipment to expand rural and remote connectivity
Connecting the world’s rural communities Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer, Nokia Siemens Networks

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Nokia Siemens Networks have signed an agreement aimed at bringing affordable connectivity to the world’s rural and remote areas. As a first step, they are connecting villages in island countries of the Pacific region.
The partnership forms part of the ITU’s Connecting Villages initiative to connect the world’s rural and remote areas. Nokia Siemens Networks is providing its Village Connection* platform and expertise at no charge. An initial shipment of thirty Village Connection platforms, developed and built by Nokia Siemens Networks, are ready to be deployed at trial sites.
Almost three billion people live in rural areas with little or no access to communications infrastructure. Nokia Siemens Networks Village Connection platform consists of specially built, compact GSM access points that a local community can use to provide individuals or families with a mobile connection for as little as USD 2 per month.
“We share a common understanding of the importance - and challenges – of connecting the next billion people to each other and to the world of information,” said Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer, Nokia Siemens Networks. ”Our Village Connection is aimed specifically at meeting that challenge: a low-cost, energy-efficient platform that can help spur socio-economic development in previously unconnected areas.”
“We look forward to working with Nokia Siemens Networks for the benefit of rural and remote communities,” said Sami Al-Basheer, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. “This project is a great example of how partners can leverage the potential of information and communication technologies to improve people’s daily lives.”
In addition to rural connectivity, Village Connection introduces a novel business model. Village access points can be owned and managed by a local entrepreneur providing opportunities for rural employment. This local point of presence can subsequently be used to promote basic services such as healthcare, and to market microfinance and agricultural services, creating a cascade of rural economic activity.
The ITU will lead the project, working with the governments of participating countries to ensure a supportive policy, regulatory environment and administrative support, in addition to seeking financial support from heads of state and other potential donors or partners. This ITU-Nokia Siemens Networks project is part of a broader ITU initiative, Connecting Villages, which is open to various partners from industry among others.
Along with Nokia Siemens Networks, the ITU will also work to secure support from local mobile operators to make supporting infrastructure and facilities such as electricity and network connections available, as well as supporting the development of local services.
Communications technology is expanding so fast that by 2015, an estimated 5 billion people will have access to communications and information services. In emerging markets, the affordability and convenience of mobile devices, networks and services are playing a crucial role in bringing the internet to more and more people; to those in cities and to those who live and work in the most isolated parts of the world. Affordable access to communications technology encourages social inclusion and contributes to progress in a range of social economic and environmental issues. Nokia Siemens Networks will continue to work closely with other companies, the public sector and civil society to promote the spread of mobile technology.

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