The Bangladeshi mobile operator Grameenphone (of Telenor Group) has set up more than 500 Community Information Centers (CICs) across the country, offering low-rate, but high-speed voice, data and other communication services to previously unconnected people.
Set up with technical assistance from the GSM Association in 2006, Grameenphone CICs are equipped with a minimum of a computer, a printer, a scanner, a webcam and an EDGE-enabled modem to access the Internet. The CICs provide high speed Internet access in rural areas, where the nearest Internet facilities would otherwise be at least 20-30 miles away. The centres are extending connectivity to those who have no alternative access to communication technologies and to those with little to spend on such services.
The CICs are designed to be run independently as small businesses by local entrepreneurs. The centres are set up in selected rural areas around the country, and people pay a small fee to access email or Web pages. Together with partners, Grameenphone also provides microcredit if needed and trains the entrepreneurs so that they become aware of the full potential of their business.