Saturday, December 09, 2006

Chirag Terminals of N-logue

N-logue is a rural Internet service provider in India which has been struggling for a long time in establishing a working business model.

N-logue, along with designated Local Service Providers (LSPs) sets up Internet nodes connected by leased lines and fibre. The LSPs provide connectivity to nearby villages through WiLL towers and receivers. In each village there will be a kiosk operator (KO) who has a single computer, a printer and a WiLL connectivity kit. The kiosks are named Chiraag.

N-logue expected local villagers to throng the Chiraag and pay money to send/receive emails, video chat and other services. However the revenue generated was not sufficient for the KOs and LSPs. Several people just closed down their businesses.

However, recently, there has been substantial rethink. The approach now is to convert the KO as outlet for a whole bunch of offline services resulting in footfalls, and possibly some Internet usage as a result of this.

In addition to offline services to the villagers, there is an attempt at creating revenue generating opportunities for the KOs.

One such is data entry/BPO job. I visited couple of such locations yesterday. Standard forms -> data input work was going on in one location. Another project happening was ITC's Mangaldeep Agarbathis. Using an information system organized by ILFS, ITC sends out the raw material required for making the Agarbathis and picks up the finished products.

Recharging of prepaid mobile phones is another interesting activity that is happening at the KOs. However the margins earned in the process is very limited (max of 3.5% of the recharge value).

If it can be demonstrated that rural kiosks can generate profits (after all costs) of about Rs. 5,000+ per month, there will be a resurgence in N-logue's operations. More prospective rural entreprenuers will join in. The investment required will be around Rs. 30,000-40,000 which can be funded partly by Government grants and rest by microcredit with monthly installments.

Internet access alone is not bringing money to the kiosk operator.

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