You can give away or sell for US$1 all the mobile phones you want, but people won’t use them if they don’t have coverage.
Such is the case in India, where demand for mobile phones is akin to calls for water in the midst of a drought. Those in urban areas have plenty of options for providing mobile phone coverage. But leave the city limits and enter the hinterlands and you’re in nowheresville as far as cellular coverage is concerned.
Enter Ideal Cellular and Ericsson, which have joined together with development fund GMSA to manufacture a base station powered by biodiesel. A great many places in rural India are off the electricity grid, so residents couldn’t even have access to a carrier signal if they wanted to. That station is now operational and burning cotton and neem, a mahogany-like tree found in India.
So far, so good, as no widespread complaints have been voiced. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, another bio-burning base stations will be up and running in west India by summer.