The continent’s biggest telecom conference and expo attracted even more exhibitors and visitors than last year. The show received a staggering 75% increase in attendance. Firmly established as Africa’s leading telecoms event, AfricaCom gathered more than 4,000 attendees from across the African continent and beyond for two days of contact building, learning and buying.
The speaker line-up represented a “Who’s Who” of those at the top of some of Africa’s most successful and important telecoms companies. A record 100 speakers presented across the two days including Suraj Chaudhry, Head of Business Development for VNL on “Using Solar Power to Deploy Rural Networks in Low Economy Areas” and Mats Nilson, VP of Shyam Networks, who presented “Strategies for Handling the Drastic Increase in Data Transmission Demand.”
VNL’s booth at #B01 was one of the largest and most visible from anywhere on the floor. Taking up 90 sqm, it showcased an actual Village Site deployment configuration.
Solar and other alternative energy-based solutions were available all over the floor, from solar, wind, and hybrid systems to a variety of fuel-cells. It is clear that Africa is poised to be the continent that will deploy and be the testing ground for a number of new green powered technologies in the near future. (Frankly, we’re happy to see all green powered programs move forward, eliminating the case for diesel powered systems in rural areas - period.)
One of the questions we get all the time from visitors at our booth is how individuals will be able to charge their phones in areas with no electricity. At our booth, we showcased a number of solutions from Suntrica out of Finland and IdeaForge from India that use solar, hand cranks and connections to bicycle wheels to create electricity to power mobile phones. We also saw a solar mobile phone or two at other booths.
The bottom line? In our opinion, Africa is at the forefront, with more mobile operators at the testing or deployment stage using non-traditional power sources for their mobile networks. We were glad to be able to present our products to a seasoned crowd of operators already working in the same direction – connecting rural networks in a sustainable and affordable manner that serves the underserved in Africa.
To further our commitment in Asia, VNL sponsored the first Connecting the Next Billion Conference held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia in November. Organized by Beacon Events, and scheduled during what turned out to be unusually inclement weather and an angry volcano, connecting rural areas in the APAC region was of such interest that it was still well attended by operators, press and analysts.
Udit Mehrotra, CMO of VNL, presented a program on “Using Solar Power to Deploy Networks in Low Economy Rural Areas” which provided case studies of deployments in India and Africa. It drew a large number of questions from an audience eager to learn more about the intricacies of rural deployment. The attendees were well aware of the issues that kept mobile operators from deploying in these areas; they were very interested in seeing a working solution and applying it to their own locations. Many attendees visited the actual Village Site product display featured in the conference room and met with our staff to discuss how they could get started in their country.
It was easy to see that Asia is ready and eager to deploy solar powered GSM and broadband infrastructure equipment in rural areas. We were glad to be able to present our products to operators already working in the same direction – connecting rural networks in a sustainable and affordable manner that serves the underserved in Asia.
Futurecom is the largest telecom conference and trade show in South America, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil every Autumn, bringing over 15,000 attendees from over 40 countries. This year, VNL hosted a 150 sqm booth located at B10.
At the show, we announced that we were actively looking for both resellers and manufacturing partners. As a company focused on being green and socially responsible, VNL is looking to manufacture or source most of the components locally that are not part of our core business, and our mission is to create these jobs locally with local partners. Some of our staff were able to tour different local factories (enjoying a delicious lunch of spicy pan-fried crocodile during one road trip!) to ascertain the capabilities of potential partners. This is a critically important goal for VNL. Shipping steel to the farthest corners of the planet from India, while feasible, is not the most green or socially responsible methodology available. Our business model is to do good while building a profitable business, and our business is low power GSM and broadband for rural areas.
The introduction of broadband to our offering caused a stir with local operators. Many were incredulous when they saw the technology at the booth and were inspired to get started. They immediately understood how VNL’s WorldGSM™ technology could impact the rural areas of their countries and were eager to learn more.
Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder, Chairman & CEO of VNL was interviewed by Telesemana where he discussed why VNL was entering the Latin America market and the synergies between India and Brazil. He also presented “Using Solar Power to Deploy Networks in Low Economy Rural Areas” which was well attended by operators, press and analysts.
Mobile operators in Africa now have a way to provide mobile voice and broadband services to rural communities and still turn a profit.
VNL is proud to announce its participation at Africa Com 2010. This conference will be held at the Cape Town Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa from November 10th to 11th, 2010.
VNL’s participation will announce the addition of broadband services as part of their award-winning WorldGSM™ solution for Africa - the solar powered GSM network infrastructure equipment specifically made for rural areas with ARPUs of less than $2. WorldGSM™ is the first commercially viable GSM system that is independent of the power grid. It runs exclusively on solar power and requires no diesel generator backup. It is also designed for simple delivery and deployment by local, untrained workers – all resulting in zero OPEX, dramatically lower CAPEX, and near zero maintenance.
The next billion subscribers will be coming from rural populations, away from saturated urban markets. If you’re planning on visiting Africa Com 2010, stop by VNL’s booth and see the future of rural wireless telephony. VNL is changing the DNA of rural telecom by providing commercially viable new building blocks that will transform the way you build your networks in the future.
*While supplies last.
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