Rural Telephony: A Socio-Economic Case Study

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has the potential to bring in development to rural areas in the third world. Any deployment of technology however should be backed by a positive economic activity to be sustainable. This paper reports on experience with the economics, as well as the social aspects of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) as a service. In Jan 2003, the authors established a Wi-Fi link from a site with wired Internet connection to a remote village site. On learning the demand for a telephone facility at the village, they setup a VoIP service. The setup has been running with reasonable success since then. The authors have collected a wide variety of statistics on the usage of the service.