Just as GrameenPhone brought cellphones to rural villages by extending microloans through Grameen Bank, the company is bringing Internet connectivity to remote parts of the country. Entrepreneurs take out microloans to buy computers and printers, and connect to the Internet through GrameenPhone’s EDGE cellphone data network. While not as fast as a broadband connection, it does the trick.
A recentÂ Washington Post story shows the impact such connectivity promises:Â one womanÂ connected to a cardiac specialist in Dhaka; another called her uncle in London for pennies using computer-aided VOIP.Â Meanwhile, just as 250,000 phone ladies have started profitable businesses leasing time on cell phones, a new set of entrepreneurs is making money selling computer services. By year end GrameenPone expects 500 such centers in place, serving an estimated 20 million people.
The initial project was started by the GSM Association’s development fund. Says Rob Conway,the Chief Executive Officer of the GSMA – the global trade association for mobile phone operators. :
“GrameenPhone’s ground-breaking use of GSM technology has placed Bangladesh in the vanguard of our global push to use mobile networks to bring affordable Internet access and email to the billions of people in the developing world that aren’t served by fixed networks.”