Four Out of Ten People Still Live in Rural Communities
Cellular connectivity has been the powerhouse of economic growth and societal development over the past 25 years. However, much of those benefits have been conferred on towns and cities while rural communities have been underserved. According to 2018 United Nations Population Division data, almost half of the world’s population (44.3%) live in rural areas. Approximately 800 million people worldwide do not have viable access to broadband telecommunications—fixed or mobile. The unrealized goal of complete rural connectivity can be attributed to two main factors: a) the financial challenges that mobile telcos face in rolling out last-mile connectivity, and b) the on-grid electrical infrastructure gap between rural and urban communities.
To overcome these challenges, a range of solutions have been proposed. Some of them, such as Google’s project Loon (now discontinued), were certainly novel and perhaps a litt...
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