Endaga’s answer to bringing cellular access everywhere is to empower local communities to run cellular networks themselves. There’s been a lot of momentum in the international development community to empower local people to solve local problems. The thinking behind local ownership is that that’s the best way to ensure sustainable development and growth.
In the last five years, the cost of cellular equipment has plummeted from $100,000 to about $10,000 – making it within reach for local entrepreneurs to run their own networks and create new cellular carriers from the ground up.
Endaga already has one pilot project in Papua, Indonesia, with a primary school, and it’s targeting remote areas in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Philippines, Fierce Wireless Tech reports. The idea is to have people in the communities running the networks rather than outside companies coming in to do it. Endaga co-founder and CEO Kurtis Heimerl said:
“If you want to get those people on the network, you have to use traditional GSM frequencies. In our network, it’s just a SIM card, you put it in your phone and you’re on the network.”
The Endaga CCN1 box, designed for rural environments, is everything local entrepreneurs need to provide coverage to their community. Just add power and Internet connection. The system covers a whole village: hundreds of subscribers in a 10km radius. The system includes a suite of tools, including monitoring, billing, credit transfer, and other services to efficiently manage the network and provide voice, SMS, and data service to users’ existing phones.
“We automatically configure everything, from phone numbers to radio frequency management. You pay a simple flat rate for interconnect to the global phone network. We give you everything you need to manage your users. You decide your prices and start running your business. Your users start making calls, sending SMS, and using data service.”
Bringing cell phone coverage to rural areas in under-developed regions of the world is important and can boost local economies. Thanks to the adoption of cell phones, local mobile e-payment services like M-Pesa created an economic boom in Kenya (compared to nearby countries).
What do you think of Endaga’s project to bring cellular coverage everywhere? Comment below!
Images from Endaga.