February 26, 2013 at 11:07 AM EST
Amazon Connection wins 2013 Global Mobile Award
  • New vitality and opportunities grasped during four years of development made possible by broadband connectivity  

  • Telefonica Vivo Foundation and Ericsson installed the first radio base station in 2009 in the remote town of Belterra, Pará, Brazil, providing 30,000 people in 175 communities with 3G voice and data services 

  • In 2010, 3G coverage was extended to a connected riverboat that provides health and education services to people living along the Tapajós River 

  • Expansion reached remote village of Suracá in 2011 and Connect To Learn was launched there in 2012 

Amazon Connection - a digital inclusion program initiated by Telefonica Vivo Foundation and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) - has won the 2013 Global Mobile Award for Best Mobile Product, Initiative or Service for Emerging Markets.

In 2009, Vivo and Ericsson - in collaboration with Brazilian non-governmental agency Saúde & Alegria - initiated a project to enable communications and improved access to health, education and economic growth in a remote part of the world. The technology and expertise in the community eventually led to expanding applications, raising the spirit of entrepreneurship and possibility for employment.

A survey conducted by an independent party, the Agency for Support of Entrepreneurs and Small Businessmen, finds that 92% of respondents believe that mobile telephony and internet services have played a major role in the development of the region. 53% of respondents believe that telephony services contributed to the creation of companies and jobs.

The first radio base station was installed in 2009 in the town of Belterra, Pará, Brazil. As planned, the base station provided an initial 20,000 people with 3G voice and data services in an area that previously had no mobile connectivity. This in itself was a remarkable feat, but technicians noticed that something unexpected was happening: the nearby Tapajós River was acting like a mirror, magnifying the range of the 3G signal. This allowed the Abaré Hospital boat, which navigates along the river, to be connected via broadband in 2010.

The expansion to Suruacá, on the other bank of the Tapajós River was unique in the deployment itself, which was difficult due to dense vegetation, lack of infrastructure and unpredictable weather. There was no source of energy in the village so Ericsson built an innovative hybrid system (solar and wind), which enabled a fully functional mobile network in the Amazon.

During the four years of the project, the public-private partnership supported the creation of a number of initiatives improving conditions for people in the local communities.

For example, Saúde & Alegria uses the Abaré, a large boat, to provide health-care services to the inhabitants of the more than 70 communities along the Tapajós River. Telefonica Vivo installed an antenna on the boat, ensuring that the 3G signal that was being magnified naturally by the river would be boosted even further. As a result, anyone aboard the Abaré now has access to a reliable mobile broadband connection. Doctors aboard the Abaré can consult with their peers around the world and send X-rays and other images for expert diagnoses. As a result, thousands of people who live in the Amazon now benefit from high-quality medical care.

In addition, the Abaré is using its mobile broadband connection to offer the Tapajós River communities educational training programs with the support of local universities.

In 2011, connectivity was extended to the community of Suruacá, and Connect To Learn, Ericsson`s program that brings cloud-based education to secondary schools, was launched.

Françoise Trapenard, president of Telefonica Vivo Foundation, said: "The region, until signal arrival of Vivo, lived the challenges of isolation imposed by the geography of the Amazon region, is now a place for people connected. The original motivation of this project had a focus on education and health in order to provide, through new connectivity technologies, learning opportunities for young riparian and streamline the activities of medical care to the population carried aboard the hospital ship Abaré."

Caetano Scannavino, Coordinator and Founder of Saúde Alegria, said: "Most of the world thinks that the Amazon is just the jungle, with trees and rivers - that it`s like a vacuum. But the Brazilian Amazon is 25 million people. My dream is that all communities in the whole of the Amazon can be connected because the world should know the ability, the beauty, and the intelligence of these people."

Elaine Weidman-Grünewald, Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, says: "We`re honored that the GSMA has recognized our efforts but even more honored to have been part of something as powerful as Amazon Connection. This is what technology for good is all about."

Recognizing the important social benefits of the hospital boat initiative, the Brazilian government has initiated a program to launch 100 additional hospital boats. Funding for 32 of them has already been approved, ensuring they will be operational in the near future.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Technology for Good
www.ericsson.com/networkedsociety/technology-for-good/

Global Mobile Awards
http://www.globalmobileawards.com/

Flickr collection about Amazon Connection
www.flickr.com/ericsson_images

Download high-resolution photos and broadcast-quality video at www.ericsson.com/press

Ericsson is the world`s leading provider of communications technology and services. We are enabling the Networked Society with efficient real-time solutions that allow us all to study, work and live our lives more freely, in sustainable societies around the world.

Our offering comprises services, software and infrastructure within Information and Communications Technology for telecom operators and other industries. Today more than 40 percent of the world`s mobile traffic goes through Ericsson networks and we support customers` networks servicing more than 2.5 billion subscribers. 

We operate in 180 countries and employ more than 100,000 people. Founded in 1876, Ericsson is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2011 the company`s net sales were SEK 226.9 billion (USD 35.0 billion). Ericsson is listed on NASDAQ OMX, Stockholm and NASDAQ, New York stock exchanges.

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