Among the central tenets that has guided Vanu, Inc. since its inception is the firm belief that connecting the enormous numbers of people that currently lack mobile coverage will ultimately have a positive and lasting impact on communities, economies and future generations. While connectivity is not a panacea, the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has left little doubt that those with some form of mobile access are at a clear advantage, in terms of knowledge, productivity and preparedness, than those without.
While it may not seem like it at the moment, most of us reading this post are incredibly fortunate. Under normal circumstances, connectivity is vitally important, even if it is taken for granted by those who have access. At a bare minimum, it enables us to connect to the people we care most about and to accomplish things we need to get done quickly and easily. Consider how connectivity has been necessary to the continued function of daily life for virtually all communities over the past several weeks, enabling many to:
- Check on loved ones near and far without leaving the house;
- Inform themselves about the regional status of COVID-19 to understand what is happening;
- Educate themselves to determine what actions they need to take;
- Access critical services like grocery/pharmacy deliveries or online banking; and
- Work, remain productive and earn money to support themselves and their families.
Imagine having none of the tools, infrastructure or service to do any of those things during this ongoing crisis. That is the reality for a staggering 1.2 billion people who need connectivity now more than ever.
It is, of course, not a surprise that populations without access to connectivity are the people who are most at risk to COVID-19 due to poverty, minimal access to medical care, and low food security. For these groups, lack of connectivity may be a death sentence. Whether it’s the virus itself, loss of income and food, denial of access to medical services or the indirect effects of the slowdown in the world economy (tourism, demand for locally sourced products and materials, etc.), the effect is devastating.
Again, access to mobile connectivity will not halt the spread of COVID-19 or revitalize the world economy. But for those who reside in off-grid communities, where lack of power, infrastructure, and access make coverage a costly challenge for mobile network operators, connectivity is quite literally a lifeline. Through this crisis and well beyond, Vanu will continue to develop and supply technology solutions that meet the needs of operators and consumers – bringing us steps closer to a connected world that’s needed now more than ever.