Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation (ATNF), a part of the Apollo Hospitals Group, the Indian healthcare powerhouse, have taken a major step towards helping bridge the digital divide in rural India by laying the foundation for the introduction of mobile health services. Telemedicine delivered using HSPA technology will enable the provision of affordable and accessible healthcare to millions of people in remote areas.


More than a million people, predominantly women and children, die each year in India because of a lack of healthcare. A further 700 million people have no access to specialist healthcare, as 80 percent of specialists live in cities. At the same time, the teledensity of India is increasing at a phenomenal rate. Telemedicine harnesses telecommunication technology to deliver healthcare and education to patients in remote regions. It enables easier access to healthcare for rural populations, helping to provide critical health information, save time and money, and reduce the need for travel.


A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Ericsson and ATNF will enable them to work together to educate people and to publicize, promote and implement the use of telemedicine deployed as an application over broadband-enabled mobile networks.


ATNF will provide expertise in telemedicine, in the form of applications that provide instant medical advice remotely over the network.  This will increase access to quality healthcare once the HSPA network is in place, and sets the stage for the creation of a stable ecosystem, based on WCDMA/HSPA technology, to support a range of innovative services.


The initiative builds on Ericsson and Apollo's previous collaboration in 2007 for the Gramjyoti project which showcased the benefits of mobile broadband applications across 18 villages and 15 towns in rural areas.


Mats Granryd, President of Ericsson India, says: "Mobility has proven to be a major catalyst for social and economic empowerment, and a key ingredient in helping to bridge the digital divide. Through our ongoing partnership with Apollo, we are putting an ecosystem in place to support telemedicine applications once the 3G network is deployed."


Prathap C. Reddy, Chairman of Apollo Hospitals Group, says: "With the availability of wireless technology, mobile health will be integrated into the healthcare delivery system. The new mantra could well be 'Healthcare for anyone, anywhere, anytime.' In our silver jubilee year, Apollo Hospitals dedicates itself, to make mobile health a reality for everyone in India."


This agreement is part of Ericsson's support for the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to halve extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, while improving education, health and gender equality. Ericsson has been working on several initiatives to demonstrate the use of telecoms in healthcare provision. 
 
Notes to editors:
Ericsson pioneers WCDMA/HSPA ecosystem pilot in rural India


Background information on HSPA, LTE and beyond (pdf):


Photos of Mats Granryd and Prathap C. Reddy available upon request.


Ericsson is the world's leading provider of technology and services to telecom operators. The market leader in 2G and 3G mobile technologies, Ericsson supplies communications services and manages networks that serve more than 195 million subscribers. The company's portfolio comprises mobile and fixed network infrastructure and broadband and multimedia solutions for operators, enterprises and developers. The Sony Ericsson joint venture provides consumers with feature-rich personal mobile devices.
 
Ericsson is advancing its vision of 'communication for all' through innovation, technology, and sustainable business solutions. Working in 175 countries, more than 70,000 employees generated revenue of USD 27.9 billion (SEK 188 billion) in 2007. Founded in 1876 and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Ericsson is listed on the Stockholm and NASDAQ stock exchanges.
 
For more information, visit www.ericsson.com or www.ericsson.mobi


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About Apollo Hospitals and Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation
With over 8000 beds in more than 41 hospitals, a string of nursing and hospital management colleges and dual lifelines of pharmacies and diagnostic clinics providing a safety net across Asia, Apollo Hospitals is a healthcare powerhouse one can trust with one's life. Apollo unites exceptional clinical success rates and superior technology with centuries-old traditions of Eastern care and warmth, reflecting its true belief of the world being its extended family - something that its 14 million patients from 55 countries can warmly affirm.


With over 100 centers in India and overseas, and over 40,000 teleconsultations, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation justifies being the largest and oldest multi-specialty network in South Asia. Aragonda Apollo Hospitals, has the distinction of being the first VSAT enabled village hospital in the world, to offer telemedicine services. Read more at www.apollohospitals.com and http://www.telemedicineindia.com
  
About the Gramjyoti Project
In September 2007, Ericsson undertook a three -month project in India, called Gramjyoti meaning "Light of the Village." The project showcased the benefits of mobile broadband for rural India. GSM is the wireless technology used by more than 80 percent of global mobile subscriptions and covering 60 percent of India's population. The next generation of mobile technology, called WCDMA/HSPA, was used in the project to demonstrate the benefit of mobile broadband to local stakeholders.

Thousands of people within the Gramjyoti project area covering 18 villages and 15 towns were able to use broadband applications. Ericsson worked in partnership with Apollo Hospitals, Hand in Hand (a local NGO), Edurite, One97, CNN and Cartoon Network to deliver a range of services including telemedicine, e-education, e-governance, voice and video call services and live TV and entertainment.
Read more about the Gramjyoti Rural Broadband Project at http://www.gramjyoti.in/index_eng.htm