IGF 2018 WS #426 Hybrid Business Models: A Connectivity & Approach

Salle VIII

Organizer 1: Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 2: Sharada Srinivasan, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 3: Muge Haseki, University of Pennsylvania

Speaker 1: Christopher Yoo, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Sarbani Banerjee Belur, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Philip Zululeta, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group


Christopher Yoo

Online Moderator

Sharada Srinivasan


Muge Haseki


Flash Session - 30 Min


Each panelist is a member of a last mile deployment, with their own story to tell about the experience of conducting a last mile deployment. 1. Philip Zululeta, Wifi Interactive Network, Philippines - Wi-Fi Interactive Network (WIN) is a Filipino technology startup founded in 2015. They aim to deliver wireless broadband to populations unserved by major Internet service providers (ISPs). As of June 2017, WIN is in the early stages of launching a new business model for providing affordable connectivity to low-income areas of the Philippines. This model, currently scaled to the island of Luzon, harnesses the accessibility of small community stores as Wi-Fi hotspots and provides a digital platform for customers to electronically deposit cash into online accounts. This case shows the utility of a flexible business model to address challenges pertaining to widespread affordable wireless access in remote areas. 2. Sarbani Belur, Gram Marg, India - Gram Marg is a project focused on bringing Internet connectivity to unserved villages in India. Beginning in 2012, Gram Marg set up the first pilot test bed that solely used TV white space (TVWS) technology to connect seven villages in the remote district of Palghar in Maharashtra, around 100 kilometers from Mumbai. Recently, the project scaled to 25 villages spanning approximately 350 square kilometers, and it uses an optimal mix of wireless technologies including 5.8 gigahertz (GHz) in the unlicensed band. 3. John Garrity, USAID: The USAID Digital Inclusion team has funded, supported, and galvanized last mile connectivity efforts around the world. John Garrity will speak of their engagement with both the last mile connectivity enterprise community as well as the donor community, in order to allow for more last mile connectivity models based on hybrid business models. 4. Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Picosoft Nepal - Using a site-based hybrid technology approach that combines TV white space (TVWS), fiber optic, and line-of-sight service, Unlimited Wireless Internet from Picosoft provides fast, high-speed Internet service in rural areas of Nepal where cable and asynchronous digital subscriber line (ADSL) Internet are not available. Picosoft donates and installs computer labs in public schools in rural Nepal and provides connectivity to those schools and to government offices. 5. We are reaching out to other last mile connectivity enterprises, including one based in Tanzania through USAID, and Vanu, with deployments in Rwanda and India.


This is a unique forum to introduce grassroots voices into policy discussions. In the past, we have convened practitioners in order to do the same at the IGF, an initiative that was well-received. Most of our speakers are from the global south, with unique experiences to share. We have sought to ensure stakeholder, regional and gender diversity, by reaching out to enterprises and firms with hybrid business models in various parts of Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Three of our speakers are first-time speakers at the IGF. This session is being co-organized and remote-moderated by a member of the youth constituency. We have representatives from USAID, as part of the government stakeholder constituency, represented as well. We have reached out to USAID to consider co-organizing the session with us as well, and they are going through internal approvals for the same.

The purpose of this session is to amplify innovative business models and understand the needs of these enterprises and entities that are using connectivity and other ways to do their work. Each organization panelist will provide insights on their organization’s business model, and USAID, that has long championed the cause of such enterprises, will provide perspective from their work with and research over the years. The panel will round out with academic research insights on such business models by Professor Christopher Yoo. Format: The workshop will be organized as a highly interactive panel to facilitate dialogue between enterprise experts from various countries and stakeholder groups, with an eye to assimilate the knowledge in the room to feed into decisionmakers’ discussions. Workshop participants shall hear the speakers for 5 minutes each, with each speaker introducing their perspectives on business models. Participants will hear insights from a diverse range of experts from governments, businesses and civil society organizations on their experience implementing or engaging with initiatives that use innovative business models. The third part of the workshop with be a highly interactive Q&A session, with 15 minutes assigned to responding to key issues that emerge for policymakers while defining digital skills training. Online participation will be facilitated through an engaged remote moderator during this time. Following the Q&A, the moderator will summarize the key takeaways from the discussion and the workshop will conclude with interaction between all participants to supplement the learnings.

The list below provides examples of the ways discussion will be facilitated amongst speakers, audience members, and online participants and ensure the session format is used to its optimum. Several roaming microphones will be used to facilitate discussion during the Q&A session (microphone availability permitting). This will facilitate discussion by creating an enabling and comfortable atmosphere where all speakers and participants are given an equal footing in the discussion. The moderator may walk around the room to engage participants as well. Media: We may consider use of images and Powerpoint presentations to aid those whose native language may not be English. Video material may also be considered to help engage remote participants. Preparation: Two preparatory calls and a preparatory meeting onsite will be organised for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers in advance of the workshop so that everyone has a chance to meet, share views and prepare for the session. Given the varied background of discussants and audience members, organisers will explore introducing some questions online in order to kickstart some discussion on social media in the run up to the workshop. This will introduce the subject, encourage conversation and create links to other dialogues on digital skills taking place in other forums. The remote moderator will play an important role in sharing the ideas of remote speakers/participants and will encourage interventions through video. During the open discussion sections, open questions will encourage responses from participants and everyone will be given equal weight and equal opportunity to intervene. Walk-in participants will be encouraged to participate in the discussion by the moderator who will seek contributions from participants in person and remotely. Reporting: During the session summary, in order to encourage diverse contributions, the moderator willanimate discussion between experts and participants to help conclude and generate suggestions for possible next steps.

Designing last-mile networks so that they can support multiple verticals can allow them to tap into alternative sources of revenue that can support broader buildout. For instance, Econet Wireless is deploying greenfield diesel-powered cell towers in regions of Zimbabwe that also generate surplus electric power available both to homes and to support the distribution of vaccines. The sale of surplus power as a product can help supplement revenues as returns from connectivity can take more time, and are contingent on demand-side factors. Other connectivity initiatives such as WiFi Interactive Network based in Philippines harnesses the accessibility of small community stores as Wi-Fi hotspots and provide a digital platform for customers to electronically deposit cash into online accounts. While these initiatives come in various flavors, amplifying their stories is important for three key reasons: First, it highlights the innovative business models that different entities are experimenting with, which can be used by others in this space. Second, it gives us an understanding in terms of how these models work, and the kinds of challenges that they navigate - regulatory, policy-related and otherwise. Finally, it provides policymakers with insights that they can incorporate into digital access policies - either by creating carve-outs for such enterprises that helps them thrive, or by creating incentives that amplifies their impact. We should not only identify new business models, but also scale them within specific geographies or across regions. A first step to this process is understanding these models, which makes this session highly relevant to the Digital Inclusion track of the IGF programme.

Online Participation

The remote moderator will be involved throughout workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. As the remote moderator is one of the organizers and has extensive experience in online moderation at the IGF in the past, she will communicate with the onsite moderator and make necessary interventions during the workshop. The online moderator will also participate in training sessions for remote participation at IGF to ensure they have all the necessary information. As noted above, during the Q&A session, the remote moderator will animate the remote participation group. This will ensure remote participants are given the opportunity to interact with multiple experts remotely. Co-organizers will ensure that the workshop is promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and to generate interest in the workshop. This would involve engagement through social media and our website. Organizers will also explore organizing a remote intervention from youth participants through remote hubs.

Session Time
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Different business models to attain last-mile connectivity sustainably use a range of technologies, revenue sources and partnerships. This session highlights the stories of a few such initiatives.