Forum > E-Governance for Conservation > Iniernet kiosks in rural areas

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 26, 2006

 

n-Logue  was established to serve the information and communications needs of people living in small towns and rural areas of India.

To rapidly scale its operations, the company employs a three-tiered business model based on the belief that delivery and management of Internet services should devolve to the level of the supply chain that comes closest to the user of the service. This decentralised model of operation draws, in large part, from the success of cable TV operations in India.

At the top level is n-Logue, which provides equipment, training and support to the LSPs(Local Service Providers) and kiosks, and also takes care of regulatory and connectivity issues.

At the second level, n-Logue identifies and partners with a local entrepreneur (also called a Local Service Provider or LSP) in every area it wishes to operate. These LSPs find subscribers, provide services and collect payments.

At the bottom level are the village kiosks, which provide services and information aimed at the rural market. With the help of n-Logue, the LSPs recruits the local entrepreneurs who set up the kiosks.

Thus there are up to three business entities involved in the operation - n-Logue, the LSP and a kiosk operator. All three must thrive for the operation to succeed.

Prof. Jhunjhunwallah of IIT Madras who is behind making available an Internet kiosk for just Rs 40,000 (around US$830) that could link up thousands of villages in the country has this to say

” Since we're talking about low investments we can create an army of rural entrepreneurs. They could avail of small loans to set up their own rural STD phone-cum-Internet centres," These small rural businessmen will be 50 per cent partners, and since they will be from the local areas in which they operate they will have far better contact with those with whom they work. In a 25km radius, they expect to find buyers for 500 to 700 connections. These may be individuals, government offices, schools and, most importantly, Internet kiosks that allow access to everyone. This level of operation should make a LSP viable, says Dr Jhunjhunwala.

Even if the numbers don't come in immediately, they will in a year's time when people start realising how new communication technologies empower them. Work towards this end is already underway at Cuddalore district, in India's southernmost province of Tamil Nadu. The technology is also being successfully implemented in Madurai (also in Tamil Nadu) and Dhar in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Likewise, the project is taking hold in Bagru of Rajasthan and Sangrur in north India. "We could have a million subscribers in three to four years. It's possible." Simultaneously, Jhunjhunwala is inspiring youngsters to work on rural Internet applications.

And also on offer is word-processing in the local Tamil language, a mail-client in Tamil, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) or voice-mail in the local language and an agricultural portal in the regional language. "We're adopting two key elements. Affordability, since everything is very low cost, and involving a local person in providing the solutions," says Professor Jhunjhunwala, explaining his model.

Thus far n-Logue has implemented the project in four centres. "The first-level feedback has been extremely encouraging. We have kiosks running in the middle of Madhya Pradesh where the average revenue a kiosk man makes is Rs 4,500 per month. Net of expenses, he makes Rs 3,000 per month, which makes him a rich man in that village,"

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