Vodafone debuts $32 solar-powered mobile phone for rural India

Vodafone's solar-powered mobile handset is intended for the Indian market, where a third of the population does not have access to the power grid.

Wireless mobile phone carrier Vodafone on Tuesday unveiled a solar-powered mobile handset for India, where a third of the population does not have access to the power grid.

The VF 247 Solar Powered phone, priced at 1,500 rupees (approx. $32 USD), needs eight hours of direct sunlight to be fully charged. (It can also charge in normal interior daylight using "Sun Boost" software.)

That's not a problem for most rural residents, who have plentiful sun but no access to electricity.

The phone can support more than eight days of use on standby and four hours of talk time, and comes with an electronic charger, FM radio and "torch" lamp. Vodafone says the phone will be available in stores next month.

Despite inadequate infrastructure, there are almost 20 million new mobile subscribers each month in India. Vodafone, the No. 2 carrier in India, says it covers 65 percent of rural areas in the country.

"Vodafone's solar powered phone is launched for people residing in areas where electric supply is unstable, so that consumers can rely on solar charging to remain connected," Vodafone Essar CEO Marten Pieters said in a statement. "This launch is likely to enable more people in rural India to go mobile and thus increase penetration from the current 20 percent."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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