Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a historic speech at the Digital India event in San Jose, California, where he discussed India’s pressing need to bridge the digital divide and make online information available to all. Even as smartphone usage in India has surged over the past two years to more than 175 million users, there remains a massive opportunity to connect the roughly one billion citizens and 600,000 villages to which online access still seems like a distant dream.
It’s a cause that resonates deeply with us here at Cambium Networks because we are committed to connecting the unconnected – from India’s developing digital economy to people, places and things all across the globe.
Within India itself, we have already seen tremendous progress in delivering on our vision of equalized information access and the power it can bring to communities. From rural farms to remote schools and hospitals that are hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest network link, we are already providing cost-effective and high-quality connections that are transforming the way people work and communicate. In the first phase of our pilot program with RailTel, for example, we are leveraging world-class fiber and fixed wireless solutions along railways to connect 3,800 remote villages. We launched this program last month and as I write this, 50 villages – including widely dispersed hospitals, schools and panchayat (local government) offices – are already benefitting from high-speed Internet for the first time.
Bringing web access to every corner of India of course presents a set of unique challenges – none more prevalent than the enormous distances between cities and villages. The terrain is also often rugged and plagued by extreme weather conditions, from turbulent monsoons to severe highs and lows in temperature. In such a vast, diverse landscape with such a dense population, digging wired trenches that are unsightly, unreliable and environmentally damaging is simply not an option. That’s why we’ve been exclusively committed to providing affordable, outdoor wireless networks that are safe, dependable and easy to deploy for even the most rugged, long-distance use cases.
The wireless links we’ve established in India – which already connect over 400 District and Tehsil offices in the isolated village tehsils in the state of Gujarat to the nearest government nodal center – are enabling high-quality video and VoIP over distances of 200 kilometers and more. These links can penetrate the most hard-to-reach places with a much smaller carbon footprint, and they can withstand the harshest outdoor environment, from 60°C to -40°C. This means that nothing – not the yearly monsoon season, nor the heat waves of the Thar Desert, nor the cold freezes of the Himalayas – can prevent these offices from connecting to the rest of India and beyond.
It is precisely this kind of network infrastructure that we believe will democratize information access all across the developing world, empowering communities with the technology and innovation they need to succeed in the 21st century global economy. As billions globally begin marching toward a digital way of living, Cambium Networks will be there to make this once-distant dream an imminent reality.