Making Rural Broadband a Reality the business case for low affordability markets Eric Wilson

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1 Making Rural Broadband a Reality the business case for low affordability markets Eric Wilson

2 SOLAR-POWERED INTERNET FOR AFFORDABLE ACCESS.Helping to connect the next 1 billion people OUR MISSION To enable large-scale expansion of affordable internet service provision in regions with negligible telecom or electricity infrastructure specifically to support internet provision for Education, Health, Local Government and Agriculture in order to enhance people s lives and drive lasting socio-economic development.

3 The Economic Rationale for Rural Broadband is clear Broadband investment = highest GDP multiplier Increasing Broadband penetration by 10% boosts GDP 1.4% Ghana GDP 1.4% = $700M per year!! Education, Health, Government, Industry Agriculture = 80-90% of rural GDP. Farmers able to check prices retain more economic surplus National Broadband Plans all focus on this: Indaba declaration: 80% penetration by 2020 (basic human right) Nigeria Plan: 5x increase by 2017 South Africa: 90% pop 5Mbps) by 2020 Etc To This: 2 Qiang et al (2009) World Bank. Assuming no regulatory obstacles, would unleashed private enterprise proliferate to meet these objectives?

4 The Technology pieces are coming together THERE IS A LOT OF GROUND TO COVER! 1. New technologies eg TVWS help address this 2. Power: low powered radios can be supported by solar power only (no diesel generators) 3. Dynamic spectrum database tools for better frequency re-use 4. Devices are becoming more affordable and local

5 Network Footprint Coverage is Manageable 1. Nigeria example Broadband penetration 6% Electricity infrastructure is lacking Population 167million Land mass 923,768 km² THERE IS A LOT OF GROUND TO COVER! New technologies eg TVWS help address this Each TVWS mast can cover approx km² 923,768km² / 200 = need 4,618 $10-12k cost each = $46 55million This is not the core challenge!

6 TVWS (UHF) and 5GHz frequencies Why TVWS for Last miles access? Better Range & lower cost Can use other frequencies eg 5GHz, but: more limited range needs more base stations (higher cost) less effective for non-line-of-sight cover IBL business case compared TVWS vs 5GHz to cover 143 sites/hotspots over 1000 km² 5GHz design needs +38% more masts, +125% more BTS radios & extra relay nodes Equipment CAPEX & planning/installation costs : 5GHz solution cost +40% vs TVWS TVWS Quality of service, reliability & stability will be much better 6

7 Low Cost Devices are Available e.g. Sûrtab Haiti Tablets manufactured in Haiti Android functionality Basic unit retail price $100 (will get lower) Open to franchising in Africa 7

8 So what s the problem? Technology jigsaw pieces are coming together Power can be addressed through renewables The spectrum can be made available and managed Devices are becoming affordable We can cover the land mass at moderate cost Why isn t everyone doing this? 8

9 Kenya igo rural broadband service launched igoservice launched following TVWS pilot Kajiado County Kenya Solarkiosk partnership Up to 15Mbps available Air-time sales from kiosk Connecting offices, schools, hotspots, etc Initial launch on 5GHz, later TVWS when policy allows 9

10 The Business Case Challenge (1) Multiple business case scenarios (Kenya): 1. Aggressive roll out Deploy 1000 masts in 2 years Peak financing >$50m, assumes 4 5 m subs after 2 years $2/month) positive cashflow High Impact (socio economic benefits) High Risk: if aggressive penetration is missed, financing + backhaul costs unsustainable business 2. Prudent Case Deploy 230 masts in 5 years Peak financing $10 15m, assumes 1.2 m subs after 5 years $3 4/month) positive cashflow Modest Impact (socio economic benefits) Moderate/manageable Risk more self funding Sensible but not exciting!! Doesn t deliver faster socioeconomic advancement of the nation and its people. 1 0

11 The Business Case Challenge (2) Affordability (rural consumers): 5% net income = $1 3 /month Cost structure elements (upfront investment): 1. Masts + radios + solar power kit approx. $12,000 cost covers up to 1250 subs break even ~5 months 2. Customer Premise equipment (CPE) Solar panels & batteries $800 + radio/wifi/antenna $800 + installation + tablet = approx $2000 Covers one site / hotspot break even (for 1 sub) ~83 years 3. Marketing & Education costs at launch per region Business case naturally drives business strategy towards: start with business customers, government offices, premium homes, internet cafes, wi fi hotspots, etc where $2000 is affordable and/or shared across multiple users Village entrepreneurs can add revenue from surplus solar power: re charging devices, lanterns, etc Costs need to be lower &/or seek subsidies eg for solar power No/Low affordability for spectrum costs & fiber backhaul/interconnect fees The Challenge is Cost reducing & Financing the CPE gap for maximum Impact 1 1

12 The Business Case Challenge (3) Realistic/prudent business case will result in slow rollout, low Impact for unserved/under served areas High Impact cases are high risk. Private capital alone is unlikely to endorse significant investment in short term Economic opportunity is huge (+10% GDP +1.4%) incl: job creation, entrepreneurship, productivity from education Better healthcare Etc.. Need public private partnerships to accelerate development and maximise socio economic Impact 1 2

13 Impact Broadband Fund Model Impact Broadband Fund will: Target equity investors who: have strong interest in Broadband rollout to global population will accept modest (but still positive) returns over longer term are motivated by High Impact projects for economic development Leverage international development bank debt (eg OPIC, World Bank, etc) Leverage Universal Service Provision funds and National/Regional development funds Project specific grants e.g. for solar power Financing leverage of x4 5 on equity investments Identify projects for Public Private Partnership model with local partners 1 3

14 Accelerating Broadband for the unserved and under-served areas in emerging markets 1. Focus on broadband service provision in unserved/underserved rural areas Hybrid regulatory TVWS pilot & commercial service with 5GHz Target Education, Health, Government & Agriculture Local implementation partners, knowledge transfer, local branding. Role of Government/regulators (in PPP): 1. Support investment in large scale rural broadband roll out Leveraged fund model such as Impact Broadband Fund Utilise USPF for matching funds Grants/subsidy/microfinancing eg for solar power investments or community investments 2. Implement Regulatory policy: TVWS usage at no fee in rural areas (secondary user protection) Favourable fiber backhaul interconnect fees 3. Align with contracts for rural schools/hospitals/government offices for service provision 4. Sponsorship for promotion & education programs 5. Tax, import duties & VAT treatment 1 4

15 THANK YOU!

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