Mobile phones in tough places: Reaching the world's unconnected will require more adventurous carriers
Posted in: Digital Divide at 19/09/2010 21:26
When Digicel, a Jamaican mobile-phone company, first planned a wireless service in Papua New Guinea, obvious hurdles loomed. The electricity grid reached at most 17% of the country's 6m people. Roads barely extended beyond Port Moresby, the capital. Average incomes were just above $1,000 a year.
Yet a more basic snag emerged. Where to put the phone towers? It was unclear where Papuans lived, since censuses were often incomplete and perhaps meaningless -- many Papuans are still migratory. So the company undertook its own census. Helicopters flew around counting people, and a second tally checked if they were still there. This crude count paid off. The 600 towers later built now serve 1.3m people.
To read this report in The Economist in full, see: