Motorola for sub$30 handset for “unconnected”

Posted on September 28, 2005  /  6 Comments

GSM Association

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Motorola selected to supply affordable and robust handsets for second phase of programme to ‘connect the unconnected’

Singapore 27th September 2005: The mobile industry has driven the wholesale cost of mobile phones to below US$30 as part of the GSM Association (GSMA) programme to make mobile telephony affordable for people in developing countries.
“To get below US$30 per handset is a milestone achievement,” said Craig Ehrlich, Chairman of the GSMA, the global trade association for the world’s GSM mobile operators. “Today’s news cements the formation of a whole new market segment for the mobile industry and will bring the benefits of mobile communications to a huge swathe of people in developing countries.”
At the 3GSM World Congress in Singapore, Rob Conway, Chief Executive and board member of the GSMA, announced today that Motorola has been selected to supply the phase-two handset. “Motorola won thanks to a combination of a portfolio starting from sub-US$30, together with other key factors such as after-sales support, local service, brand presence and a choice of low-cost handset models including an exclusive product, the C113a for this programme,” said Conway.
The 10 operators supporting the second phase of the GSMA’s Emerging Market Handset programme expect to order about 6 million of these low-cost handsets from Motorola. The GSMA programme, which is chaired by Erik Aas, the Chief Executive of GrameenPhone Ltd. of Bangladesh, is supported by some of the leading operators in emerging markets – AIS, Bharti, BPL, Globe Telecom, Hutchison Essar, IDEA Cellular, MTN Group, Orascom Telecom, Telenor and Vodacom.
“The startup price is the single most important criteria for connecting the unconnected in emerging markets. The GSMA Emerging Market Handset initiative is a major step towards reducing the startup price, and will fuel significant economic growth, as well as major social changes, when so many new people can communicate directly from their home or on the move. “
Erik Aas, CEO of GrameenPhone.


  1. Ties in well with LIRNEasia’s current projects Telecom use on a shoestring: Some findings from a study of the Financially Constrained in South Asia and the Grameen Telecom Microfinance Approach to Rural Telecommunications Access in Bangladesh study.

    The initial findings from the Telecom use on a shoestring study are now available as a 43 slide powerpoint for download. Please check back for papers based on this study that will be posted on this site in the near future.
    Also see previous posts: Cell Phones and Rural Africa

  2. Indeed, very relevant. We will be posting the first set of slides from the Singapore course reporting some of the findings of the survey of telecom use on a shoestring shortly.

  3. Sub-$30 handset of Motorola is certainly “a milestone achievement” as Craig Ehrlich claims. Infenion and Philips has also claimed to launch sub-$20 handset platforms in 2006. Nokia is contemplating the launch of similar products. We are to find if these prices are for the dealers or for the consumers. Such handsets will undoubtedly reduce the startup cost of mobile phone. The customers generating $5 monthly ARPU are targetted audience. These customers of the Afro-Asian mobile markets are the growth engine of next billion worldwide GSM clientele.

    One issue, however, needs to be addressed immediately. The $30 or $20 is a significant investment compared to the earnings of most of the ultra-low-cost (ULC)handset users. Despite having all provisions, the regulatory countermeasure to deter the stealing of mobile handsets are yet to be applied in South Asia.

    GSM has become the dominant technology of mobile telephone. If you subscribe a new connection, you get a SIM. Then you buy a preferred handset and insert the SIM card. The connection is on.

    If you dial *#06# on any GSM handset a number will be displayed. This is called International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI number. Every GSM handset has a unique IMEI code.

    Regulators should mandate the mobile operators to maintain a database of their subscribers’ IMEI code. Soon after receiving the report of stolen or lost handset, the operators immediately block that handset’s IMEI number in their networks. Therefore, nobody will ever be able to use that stolen or lost handset. If anyone tries, his SIM should be cancelled as a penalty of conniving with the black market.

    But the real problem is somewhere else. The pirates have succeeded to break the IMEI code and re-programme the handsets. In the UK, a law (Mobile Phones Reprogramming Act 2002) has been made to prevent the mobile handset reprogramming. France, Germany, Greece, Spain and other European countries are contemplating to introduce very harsh anti re-programming of mobile handsets law.

    Kenyan mobile phone operators — Safaricom and Kencell — have launched a service to block the IMEI serial numbers of stolen handsets. It will be jointly operated by these two firms and the respective police authorities.

    Other African mobile phone service providers such as Tanzania’a Celtel, Vodacom, Mobitel and Zantel as well as Uganda’s MTN, UTL and Celtel Uganda have joined forces to ensure the schemes success. They have agreed to offer reciprocal stolen phones blacklisting services on their networks.

    LIRNEasia should persuade the South Asian regulators to mandate the GSM operators in creating a common database on handsets with the Central Equipment Identifying Register (CEIR) at Dublin, Ireland. This would mean that once a customer reports its phone being stolen or lost, that phone would be blocked from using across the globe. This would make the stolen mobile phones unattractive to the black market. Such step should be initiated at the SAARC level to protect the telecom future of South Asia.

  4. Mobile industry focuses on handsets for poor, goal is to get to $15 per handset.

  5. TAC of motorola C113a

  6. i lookin as a one of ur clints in gsm line pl give me one good Appurtunity,