Vodafone brings solar power mobile phone to India

Vodafone Essar Ltd. unveiled a solar-powered mobile phone Tuesday that it hopes will appeal to India’s rural masses who lack electricity.

India has been adding close to 20 million mobile subscribers each month, but many are in rural areas where electricity supply can be patchy at best. A third of Indians don’t have access to electric power, but they do get plenty of sun.

Samsung, which launched a solar-powered handset about a year ago, and now Vodafone are trying to bridge the infrastructure gap.

“This launch is likely to enable more people in rural India to go mobile and thus increase penetration from the current 20 percent,” Vodafone Essar chief executive Marten Pieters said in a statement.

The VF 247 Solar Powered phone, priced at 1,500 rupees ($32), should be available in stores next month.

It needs eight hours of direct sunlight to be fully charged and can support 200 standby hours and 240 minutes of talk time. It also comes with an electronic charger, an FM radio and a powerful torch light.

Associated Press