Women-led startups enabling internet connectivity in rural India

Indian women-led startup, Astrome, has developed a product that enables telecom operators to provide wireless internet connectivity in rural and suburban areas, offering fibre-optic levels of internet speed and bandwidth at significantly lower costs for all stakeholders.

March 29, 2021

Astrome’s ‘Giga Mesh’ will provide high speed rural telecom infrastructure at only one-fifth the cost of fibre.

Device costs are distributed between multiple links which reduces the capital expenditure and operational costs for users.

Indian startups are addressing many last mile connectivity hurdles with reliable internet access solutions.

After successful on-field trials, Giga Mesh is now being integrated with partner products for future commercialisation.

Indian women-led startup, Astrome, has developed a product that enables telecom operators to provide wireless internet connectivity in rural and suburban areas, offering fibre-optic levels of internet speed and bandwidth at significantly lower costs for all stakeholders. According to an official Ministry of Science & Technology release on March 29, the ‘Giga Mesh’ wireless product will allow telecom operators to establish high speed, high quality rural telecom infrastructure at only 20 per cent of the cost of laying fibre-optic cable connectivity for the same regions. In addition, the product helps distribute the cost of the device between multiple links, which greatly reduces capital expenditure for users, while special features assist in reducing the operational costs involved.

Technological innovation of this nature is helping bridge the gaps between urban and rural infrastructure, addressing many last mile connectivity hurdles with reliable internet access solutions. Supported by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and Department of Science and Technology (DST) programs, the women-led startup has produced a valuable, scalable product that has undergone successful on-field trials and is now being integrated with partner products for commercialisation in the near future.

Since its 2016 launch, the Startup India initiative has supported the rise of technology startups across industries, including the fintech, edtech, telecom, and consumer services industries. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian startups have continued to grow in terms of financial and human capital compared to figures in previous years. In 2019, India’s technology startup industry retained its position as the third largest globally, while data from April 2020 shows the inflow of US$2.5 billion in funding towards technology-led startups in Q1, indicating a 14 per cent increase in investment despite the effects of lockdown. As a whole, the industry has seen sustained growth of 12-15 per cent over the past decade with Indian startups gaining market internationally as well as creating new demand in India’s untapped regions.