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Hello; Rural Bhutan Calling

When cellular service was first introduced in Bhutan many people had hard time believing that one could communicate with someone over a small handset that resembled a child's toy. What amazed them was the fact that they can carry that handset wherever they went without having to be bothered by the wires. And back then only a handful of Bhutanese could afford cellular phones. We have come a long way today.

Almost everyone carries a mobile phone now that without one he/she is almost considered old fashioned. As on December 2013 as many as 544,337 people have subscribed to either BMobile or TashiCell. 

Of late WeChat is the talk of the town - at least in rural Bhutan. Everyone wants to know and find out who is on WeChat. Many farmers have it and that makes me uncomfortable as I was introduced to it only recently. Jokes aside, it is really simple and useful platform - once you create an account, you are ready to go and at the push of a button, you send messages and pictures to your loved ones. This does not require literacy. But again I am not discounting its negative impact - especially, how viral some leaked private videos went in Bhutan through WeChat! But this is only one side of it.

I think WeChat truly empowers our villagers and illiterate citizens. They don't need fancy and expensive mobiles to use WeChat.

It is important for us to provide reliable connectivity in rural Bhutan. But again it is time that we educate our rural folks about their safety and privacy in this SMALL and OPEN world. 

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