STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN -- (Marketwire) -- 02/26/13 --
* New vitality and opportunities grasped during four years of development made possible by broadband connectivity
* Telefonica Vivo Foundation and Ericsson installed the first radio base station in 2009 in the remote town of Belterra, Pará, Brazil, providing 30,000 people in 175 communities with 3G voice and data services
* In 2010, 3G coverage was extended to a connected riverboat that provides health and education services to people living along the Tapajós River
* Expansion reached remote village of Suracá in 2011 and Connect To Learn was launched there in 2012
Amazon Connection -- a digital inclusion program initiated by Telefonica VivoFoundation and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) -- has won the 2013 Global Mobile Awardfor Best Mobile Product, Initiative or Service for Emerging Markets.
In 2009, Vivo and Ericsson -- in collaboration with Brazilian non-governmentalagency Saúde & Alegria -- initiated a project to enable communications andimproved access to health, education and economic growth in a remote part of theworld. The technology and expertise in the community eventually led to expandingapplications, raising the spirit of entrepreneurship and possibility foremployment.
A survey conducted by an independent party, the Agency for Support ofEntrepreneurs and Small Businessmen, finds that 92% of respondents believe thatmobile telephony and internet services have played a major role in thedevelopment of the region. 53% of respondents believe that telephony servicescontributed to the creation of companies and jobs.
The first radio base station was installed in 2009 in the town of Belterra,Pará, Brazil. As planned, the base station provided an initial 20,000 peoplewith 3G voice and data services in an area that previously had no mobileconnectivity. This in itself was a remarkable feat, but technicians noticed thatsomething unexpected was happening: the nearby Tapajós River was acting like amirror, magnifying the range of the 3G signal. This allowed the Abaré Hospitalboat, which navigates along the river, to be connected via broadband in 2010.
The expansion to Suruacá, on the other bank of the Tapajós River was unique inthe deployment itself, which was difficult due to dense vegetation, lack ofinfrastructure and unpredictable weather. There was no source of energy in thevillage so Ericsson built an innovative hybrid system (solar and wind), whichenabled a fully functional mobile network in the Amazon.
During the four years of the project, the public-private partnership supportedthe creation of a number of initiatives improving conditions for people in thelocal communities.
For example, Saúde & Alegria uses the Abaré, a large boat, to provide health-care services to the inhabitants of the more than 70 communities along theTapajós River. Telefonica Vivo installed an antenna on the boat, ensuring thatthe 3G signal that was being magnified naturally by the river would be boostedeven further. As a result, anyone aboard the Abaré now has access to a reliablemobile broadband connection. Doctors aboard the Abaré can consult with theirpeers around the world and send X-rays and other images for expert diagnoses. Asa result, thousands of people who live in the Amazon now benefit from high-quality medical care.
In addition, the Abaré is using its mobile broadband connection to offer theTapajós River communities educational training programs with the support oflocal universities.
In 2011, connectivity was extended to the community of Suruacá, and Connect ToLearn, Ericsson's program that brings cloud-based education to secondaryschools, was launched.
Françoise Trapenard, president of Telefonica Vivo Foundation, said: "The region,until signal arrival of Vivo, lived the challenges of isolation imposed by thegeography of the Amazon region, is now a place for people connected. Theoriginal motivation of this project had a focus on education and health in orderto provide, through new connectivity technologies, learning opportunities foryoung riparian and streamline the activities of medical care to the populationcarried aboard the hospital ship Abaré."
Caetano Scannavino, Coordinator and Founder of Saúde Alegria, said: "Most of theworld thinks that the Amazon is just the jungle, with trees and rivers -- thatit's like a vacuum. But the Brazilian Amazon is 25 million people. My dream isthat all communities in the whole of the Amazon can be connected because theworld should know the ability, the beauty, and the intelligence of thesepeople."
Elaine Weidman-Grünewald, Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility,Ericsson, says: "We're honored that the GSMA has recognized our efforts but evenmore honored to have been part of something as powerful as Amazon Connection.This is what technology for good is all about."
Recognizing the important social benefits of the hospital boat initiative, theBrazilian government has initiated a program to launch 100 additional hospitalboats. Funding for 32 of them has already been approved, ensuring they will beoperational in the near future.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Technology for Good
Global Mobile Awards
Flickr collection about Amazon Connection
Download high-resolution photos and broadcast-quality video atwww.ericsson.com/press
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Amazon Connection wins 2013 Global Mobile Award:http://hugin.info/1061/R/1681229/549515.pdf
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