Solar Satellite Television brings Magic to India’s Villages
Rooftop solar plays an important role in both off-grid and on-grid communities in India, and is in many cases the fastest and least expensive way to get power into homes and businesses.
An Indian social business has launched the country’s first solar satellite television service, bringing clean energy powered entertainment to households and businesses through a pay-as-you-go payment scheme.
Simpa Networks, which began operations in 2011, is one of the thousands of social enterprises in India tapping into the renewable energy market in a country where one-fifth of the 1.3 billion population has no access to electricity.
With the majority of those without power from poor communities in the countryside, the company focuses on selling solar powered products such as LED lights, phone charging points and fans on financing to rural homes and shops in northern India.
“We see a tremendous opportunity in rural areas where demand for energy is growing even faster than supply,” said Simpa Network CEO Piyush Mathur in a statement.
“Simpa Magic TV” provides over 100 satellite channels with content ranging from comedy and entertainment to news, movies, and music, and costs 25,000 rupees ($390) – the same as a non-solar equivalent. The system, which includes an 80 W solar panel, 20” energy efficient LED television, battery, solar charge controller, is available on a repayment plan of up to 36 months.
Customers make an initial payment to have the system installed then use a pay-as-you-go model for the electricity. The payments contribute to total cost and, once fully paid, the customer owns the system and the electricity is free. The service now has around 350 customers so far in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The company said the payment plan is effective as such technology would be unaffordable for most rural families. Given solar television service is new and few know how to use and maintain it, the company said, Simpa has trained rural solar technicians who are responsible for installation, after-sale services and monthly collection of payments.