Rural India appears to have cell coverage – and they’re making the most of it. According to the Wall Street Journal, “In the furthest reaches of India’s rural heartland, the cell phone is bringing something that television, radio and even newspapers couldn’t deliver: Instant access to music, information, entertainment, news and even worship.”
In light of Minnesota’s not-so-stellar cellular coverage, this caught my eye. Apparently there are about 750,000 isolated villages in India – but a decade of concerted effort by operators means that these areas have good cell coverage and the residents are making the most of it. Folks dial in to listen to music. Sports fans get hourly text updates of cricket matches. Farmers get daily weather reports *and* Tata Teleservices has a service which lets farmers use their cell phones to control the pumps that water their crops. You can even phone in to hear prayers.
It’s great – and the article goes on to talk about the economics behind the various businesses offering these services. Right now these service make up only 10 percent of the business but that is expected to expand to 25 percent. Also the rural communities have been better insulated from economic hardship; so this may be a less lucrative but more stable revenue stream. Maybe that’s a shift that needs to happen here in Minnesota. We can start thinking of rural markets as more stable, that might attract more providers is the cell and broadband industries