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This paper draws attention to the outstanding feature of present telecommunications in developing countries, namely that most of the equipment is installed in towns but most people live in rural areas. Various features of the social environment are outlined, indicating their importance for planning and choice of technology. Social change is shown to offer the opportunity for telecommunication development but it also poses the main challenge to planning. The paper outlines the main constraints to choice of technology, emphasizing those that relate to the socioeconomic environment in the rural areas. Within these constraints, a pragmatic approach is advocated which admits both old and modern technological solutions. A discussion of the technology-transfer question develops a conceptual framework within which this approach may be justified.