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Wireless Networking Businesses Cellphones Communications

Providing Wireless In the World's Most Dangerous and Remote Places 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the 5-bar-volcano dept.
grcumb writes "The Economist magazine is running a brief profile of Digicel, a 'minnow' in the wireless telecoms market that has distinguished itself by setting up shop in some of the most unlikely (and dangerous) markets in the world, including Haiti and Papua New Guinea, whose capital, Port Moresby, has one of the highest murder rates in the world."
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Providing Wireless In the World's Most Dangerous and Remote Places

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  • Digicel is in Tonga (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:54PM (#33670470)

    This post was made from a Digicel connection from my yacht (currently in Tonga).

    Digicel works better than some Pacific internet connections. It isn't fast, but no connections are out here. It is relatively affordable: eight hours of internet time in Tonga is ~USD15, while eight hours in French Polynesia is about EUR40 (USD55).

  • Re:danger (Score:5, Informative)

    by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:07PM (#33670586) Homepage Journal

    How do they get wireless routers to operate in an environment filled with so much fear? I'd be dropping packets left and right. "Is that guy going to kill me?! checksum error." "That guy has a knife! No route to destination." Packet, packet, packet, pac--ARGH, THEY GOT ME!

    Heh, yeah. Here in Vanuatu at least one tower was dragged down by locals because of a land dispute.

    By and large, though, people tend to protect the things they value. This Forbes profile of Denis O'Brien [forbes.com] reports that, during a period of rioting and looting in Haiti, people actually guarded the towers, because they saw Digicel as being on their side.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:34PM (#33670822) Journal

    Digicel succeeds by defying conventional wisdom

    Considering that TFA says they are $4.3 billion debt, and trying to take their profit out of $3 phone cards, I'm not so sure I'd say they are succeeding AT ALL.

  • by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:57PM (#33671012) Homepage Journal

    Digicel succeeds by defying conventional wisdom

    Considering that TFA says they are $4.3 billion debt, and trying to take their profit out of $3 phone cards, I'm not so sure I'd say they are succeeding AT ALL.

    No, you're reading that wrong. Yes, they are carrying debts of $4.3 billion, but their operating profits are quite tidy. Almost all of the debt is capitalisation in new markets, which means their prospects are quite good, provided they don't do anything stupid.

    Digicel SIM cards here in Vanuatu are $US 5.00 each, and they currently have over 100,000 active accounts in a country whose entire population is only 235,000. I've seen some numbers about their call volumes and I can assure you that their national operations are profitable.

  • Interesting. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Leebert (1694) * on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:43PM (#33671308)

    I was just in Haiti over the weekend. On my prior trip in 2007, Digicel was everywhere. This time, it was Viola, and relatively little Digicel. My phone connected to Viola. In fact, Digicel wasn't even listed in the list of carriers on my iPhone when I checked. I was actually wondering if they still existed.

    What's striking about Haiti (and, from what I'm told from missionary friends, parts of Africa) is how many people have cell phones. People who don't even have electricity in their homes run around with cell phones. When you wander around the mission I was working at, everywhere you go there is a cell phone plugged in and charging. Viola even has charging stations at retailers in Port-au-Prince.

  • Re:Fluff article (Score:4, Informative)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:38PM (#33671910)

    The problem is, both the 360 and the PS3 are priced at ARS3000, which is almost USD 800. One has to wonder why they can't offer the product as the same price as in USA.

    Companies don't arbitrarily decide to charge more for products, especially in a country with a lower standard of living than the US. Products are expensive because of taxes and import tariffs. Argentina has a 21% VAT. Retail goods are also subject to a 3% anticipated profits tax. Those are the ones I could dig up quickly. There are a variety of other taxes imposed on goods.

    For good or ill the US doesn't tax imported goods all that heavily. It's why imported products cost nearly as much as they do in the country of origin. If you're in a country where stuff costs twice what it costs in the US chances are it's the fault of your government.

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