Low-cost mobile for remotest African villages

Nokia Siemens Networks is working with mobile-phone service providers in Africa to provide rural villages with low-cost communications.

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Nokia Siemens Networks is working with mobile-phone service providers in Africa to provide rural villages with low-cost communications.

The initiative, dubbed Nokia Siemens Networks Village Connection, is being tried out first in Tanzania. However, company officials said other regional deployments were in the pipeline, including a rural area in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

Most mobile service providers in Africa have been unable or unwilling to expand their services to rural areas, citing cost reasons, and that's left millions of people unconnected. Even where villages are served by mobile networks, the price of services deters many people from subscribing.

But the Nokia Siemens scheme will charge subscribers around only US$3 (£1.50) per month, compared to the average $10 (£5) per month being charged by most mobile providers in the region.

Mandy Williams, a company senior account manager, said Nokia Siemens was naturally hoping to promote new corporate growth with the initiative. "The Middle East and Africa region is one of the most important and strategic markets for Nokia Siemens Networks in the fixed and mobile business," she said.

Village Connection relies on network technology designed to lower the capital expenditure and operating costs traditionally associated with wireless network roll-outs in emerging markets. The mobile network design consists of access points that will be located in the villages and managed by local operators in cooperation with GSM network operators, who provide the core network.

The networks can offer voice and SMS services, and in some cases will use satellite connectivity to act as a backhaul, distributing traffic among geographically dispersed sites.

Nokia Siemens is a 50-50 joint venture between Nokia Networks and Siemens technology.

 
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