Soon consumers in rural India will be able to access TV and online educational material using a solar-powered device.
Chicago-based Veriown Global has developed an internet-connected solar energy platform that will be launched on a pilot-basis in villages in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The system includes a rooftop solar panel that will power the device, which will have cellular connectivity enabling the user watch online video content or access services such as education and healthcare.
Wael Aburida, Chief Executive Officer, Veriown Global, told BusinessLine, “ The combination of off-grid solar lighting and cellular connectivity makes us unique. We will provide individualised solutions aimed at bringing clean, reliable and affordable energy along with access to information on education and healthcare.”
“The system is made of components made in India and elsewhere. We look forward to working with the government and local partners to migrate to a 100 per cent made in India product in the near future,” said Aburida. While the solar panels are being manufactured by Build Your Dreams (BYD) in Shenzhen, the device called ‘The Connect’ is made by Veriown.
“The Connect has been engineered to withstand even the most volatile weather conditions. It is also designed to be an individualised solution. We can create more impact using small amounts of space compared with microgrid or solar farms,”Aburida said.
Veriown recently partnered with Eros Now to provide entertainment content over ‘The Connect’. “We will kick-start the content service on the platform with many blockbusters from our content library. Based on the consumption style, we will innovate and tweak the content strategy to service rural demand,” said Ali Hussein, COO, Eros Digital.
Pricing details for the service and the device are still being worked out. “It is early to comment and commit on specific pricing, as the model is going to work on a pre-paid system to consume entertainment on ‘The Connect’ device. It will essentially be a sachet pricing strategy in line with our consumer pricing in India which is already on the very affordable side,”said Hussein.
Veriown is looking to partner with Government digital schemes initially to fund the project. For cellular connectivity, it has partnered with Vodafone, which is already on a survey for fixing towers in places where networks are weak and to see infrastructural feasibility. For educational and health information there are in-built apps in the device through partnerships.