Consider the last mobile mile conquered, judging from the technology developed by the Indian startup VNL. Its solar-powered global-satellite-mobile (GSM) system is cheap (about $15,000, one-quarter the cost of traditional base stations), green (it requires only as much energy as a 50-watt lightbulb and produces zero emissions), and efficient (in six hours, the equipment can be assembled onto a home rooftop, no tech expertise required, and provide service to 2,000 users within a 2-mile radius). VNL has successfully deployed pilot projects in rural Indian villages, and last December, the World Economic Forum named it a Technology Pioneer for 2010. Next up: Africa, where two telecom companies will begin rolling out VNL’s system this year.
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