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Bringing the Internet to the next billion users
Offering Internet access to the next billion users in emerging markets is a complex challenge that will demand new thinking and extensive cooperation.
Deploying Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is one of the most effective investments that nations can make to improve their economic performance and raise living standards. Sitting right at the heart of ICT is affordable access to the Internet for people the world over.
"Experience shows that not only can a developing country expect rapid returns from its ICT investments, but it also gains substantial long-term growth," explains Ilkka Lakaniemi, Head of Global Political Dialog and Initiative, Nokia Siemens Networks.
Yet, achieving these benefits will take more than simply investing in the bricks and mortar of ICT.
Naturally, people must be given access to the Internet. This will demand innovative business and technology solutions such as Nokia Siemens Networks Village Connection. This GSM and IP-based solution extends mobile voice and data coverage to rural villages, enabling the use of a franchise-based business model that is new in the telecoms sector. Rural coverage becomes a realistic business Bringing the Internet to the next billion users.
As well as managing the subscriber database within the village, the local entrepreneur maintains the GSM Access Point equipment and provides customer service within the village. They can even run services such as a phone booth or Internet cafÃ©.
Services must also be affordable. Users will often have less than USD 3 per month to spend on ICT. The key measure is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the consumer. Operators need to be able to deliver services with the lowest possible operating and capital costs to be able to create a sustainable business.
Sharing helps to create affordability
Costs can be reduced further through the sharing of Internet access. Shared access for rural communities is already being widely trialed. Telenor Pakistan, for instance, launched an initiative in September 2007 in which several community information centers offer modern communication facilities under one roof.
To further encourage the adoption of shared access, Nokia Siemens Networks recently launched Village Connection Internet Kiosk. Internet Kiosk makes use of the IP backhaul connection of the Village Connection solution, enabling operators to provide internet access easily and cost-effectively.
Shared access also helps to fulfill another need - the kiosk host can help users to understand the power of the internet. Consumers can then use services for themselves, discover how they work and see their practical value. Recent research by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) on behalf of Nokia Siemens Networks and Nokia discovered that people in emerging markets welcomed information services especially about job opportunities, markets, education, banking, health and travel.
Lowering duties and taxes
The final piece of the jigsaw is an open and free regulatory environment. Open regulations are crucial for boosting access to ICT. Governments must lead the way in stimulating demand for information services through ICTs.
"The TCO for consumers depends on lowering or eliminating additional costs, such as handset and infrastructure equipment import duties and taxes on services. When this has been achieved, other issues such as adopting global network standards and technologies can be addressed," explains Frank Oehler, Head of Businss Development, New Growth Markets, Nokia Siemens. "It's important that the industry works with regulators to uncover the opportunities for communications to create national wealth. A few years ago, discussions focused on whether liberalization was a good thing. Now the talk is about how to do it, not why.
"Nokia Siemens Networks is helping operators to prepare for the successful operation of services and new business models. Various aspects such as efficient infrastructure operations, service management and the preparation of a strategic service portfolio are just some elements. Nokia Siemens Networks can support operators through its globally available solution-oriented consulting teams," Oehler concludes.
For more information, please visit: www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/newgrowthmarkets
Village Connection wins Indian industry award
The innovation behind Nokia Siemens Networks Village Connection was recognized in May 2008 by the Indian Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (TEMA) at its 2nd National Telecom Awards. The solution, which is deployed in several Indian villages, picked up the the Excellence in Innovation award.
"Two key factors made Village Connection stand out in the Innovation category. The first is the system support for local subscriber management in the villages, enabling a franchise-based business model. The second is its solution architecture that eliminates the traditional network hierarchies for traffic between neighboring villages, minimizing the capital and operational expenditure for operators," said N.K.Goyal, ChairmanEmeritus, TEMA.
Bringing ICT to the youth in Pakistan
Mid-2008 saw the opening of the first "Telecom Futures" laboratory in Lahore, Pakistan, aiming to broaden opportunities for Pakistani youths. The initiative builds on an innovative vocational partnership between Nokia Siemens Networks, Telenor Pakistan and the Technical & Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).
The Telecom Futures program provides a two-year higher national diploma based on an advanced curriculum, scholarships, hands-on-training and internship opportunities to students. It is the first industry-academia collaboration in telecommunications in Pakistan aimed at developing human resources from deprived backgrounds.