You Can’t Hear Me Right Now


My cell phone stopped working this weekend.  I was pretty proud of it—a sleek looking Vodafone model that fit easily in my pocket.  But when I tried to use it on Sunday, the screen was frozen.  I was attending a wedding in a village in southern India, where many helpful people fiddled with the phone but could not get it to work.

So I started looking around for a Vodafone store, though I thought my chances were slim.  After all, I was in a small village outside a somewhat larger town about two hours from the closest major city.  As we drove through the village, I started looking at the stores we were passing and was surprised by how many were advertising Airtel, the cellular service I have on my phone.  There were many red Airtel banners flying outside all kinds of small shops where cell phone owners can purchase minutes for their phones.  A few also had Vodafone signs, signaling that they carry cell phones.  As it was a Sunday afternoon, all of the stores selling phones were closed.  Still, I was impressed with the reach of cell phone services here.  When I’ve traveled in Africa, I’ve seen Coca Cola signs everywhere, even in the most remote villages.  Here, at least in rural Kerala, it was signs for cell phones and mobile services that suddenly jumped out at me. 

How to distribute goods and services to rural areas in developing countries is a big concern.  Cell phone companies seem to be finding a way here, at least from what I’ve seen in my limited travels.  It would be interesting to hear how they’ve succeeded in setting up franchises and what lessons they’ve learned in reaching out to the base of the pyramid.

One Response to “You Can’t Hear Me Right Now”

  1. Cissie DeKriek Says:

    Chris, what a fabulous experience you’re having! How long do you anticipate staying in India? Don’t forget to stop by Boston on your return!

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