Filipino sari-sari stores to become WiFi hotspots thanks to Microsoft funding

Over 248 start-up companies have entered the Affordable Access Initiative competition for Microsoft's attention and only twelve were awarded funding. One of these companies was the WiFi Interactive Network (WIN) located in Quezon City, Philippines. With the $150,000 USD, the company will be able to work towards their goals of providing wireless connectivity to small businesses throughout the Philippines.

According to Inquirer, the president of WIN, Phili Zulueta, shared more insight through an email interview with FilAM Star personally:

Close to 60 percent of the distribution revenue of (fast moving consumer goods) in the Philippines goes through the traditional channels (such as) sari-sari stores and mini groceries. Having connectivity in these channels allow our sponsors visibility into data that they have not been able to access previously.

Because of this, brand sponsors pay for the installation, management, and maintenance of the WiFi hotspots. In return, WIN provides a 'purchase-for-access' model that ensures that the internet is affordable for the business owners. According to the model, "a customer first buys a sponsoring brand's product prior to being provided internet access," Zuleueta said. The business model allows for the sponsors of WIN to provide internet access to those that support their business, a win-win for all parties involved.

Another unique aspect of WIN is the technique of installation. Whereas WiFi connectivity has a range of 600 feet, the TV White Space (TVWS) that is created by unused television channels can reach up to an impressive 10 kilometers even over water and through thick solids. The TVWS is a prime angle for providing wireless internet across the large number of islands that make up the country.

WIN hopes to utilize the seed money from Microsoft to extend their reach to over 10,000 WiFi locations within the next three years. Zulueta explained"

Our model is scalable because our brand sponsors are present in most developing countries that also have connectivity issues. India and Indonesia are big markets, while we are looking to collaborate with other like-minded companies who are serving the nations of Africa.

Microsoft's backing of the WiFi Interactive Network is a testament to their commitment of bringing technology globally. Agreeing with the founder of WIN, there is indeed no reason in this day and age why people should not have internet connectivity.

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