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WorldGSM™ : helping villages in Ghana go mobile. 23 Apr, 2014

#Mud huts in Zinido village seen through the perimeter fencing at the VNL site.

VNL has successfully completed trials of its solar powered WorldGSM™ rural GSM solution for MTN Ghana at two remote village locations, Zinido and Dakpiemyli in the Tamale region of Northern Ghana in June 2013. Zinido (population: just over 2000 with 320 mud hut dwellings) is slightly larger than Dakpiemyli (population:around 1500 with 230 dwellings -most of them farmers). Both villages lack modern infrastructure like roads and power supply.

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VNL provides autonomy of 3 days at the 2-2 TRX remote site with 12 solar panels in a compact array.

Before the trials, village residents were forced to leave their homes and walk up to 5 kms in search of a GSM signal to operate their mobile phone. (See the “talking tree picture”).MTN found the VNL WorldGSM™ solution to be tailormade for this kind of problem.  One of the guiding principles for the clean sheet design of the WorldGSM™ rural solution is to provide good signal quality in the village, inside homes. No compromises.

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View of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural BTS and omni antennas atop the 30m mast in Dakpiemyli

The top of the VNL WorldGSM™  2-2 TRX Rural site for MTN in Zinido village, northern Ghana, showing the WorldGSM™ Rural BTS and antennas. The solar powered site works independent of the power grid and requires no diesel generator backup, air-conditioning, shelter or external cooling. It provides GSM and GPRS connectivity to the village and adjoining areas.

The MTN Zinido site is a 2-2 TRX configuration site and the Dakpiemyli site is a 2TRX configuration. Both have 3 days autonomy in a region with heavy rains throughout the year.The existing MTN transmission at Tampion and Banvim has been  extended to  Zinido and Dakpimyli respectively, using VNL’s own IP transmission solution.

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Base of VNL WorldGSMTM 2TRX Rural Site for MTN at Dakpiemyli.The solar panels provide 3 day power autonomy. The mast is 30m high.

VNL’s WorldGSM™ solutions are deployed in Ghana in partnership with local company Subah Infosolutions Ghana Limited (link: http://www.subahghana.com/)who are committed to bringing the most innovative technology solutions to Ghana  to address the unique challenges of clients such as MTN.VNL’s sustainable solar powered rural GSM and broadband solution is ideal for remote locations where affordable services are badly required but can only be offered if operating costs are within limits to give a viable business case.

The two sites are now commercial revenue generating sites within the MTN Ghana network and provide GSM and GPRS service to over 3000 subscribers generating roughly 200 erlang of voice traffic daily. The mobile network is used primarily by people in the village to speak to their children who are employed in other towns or to connect to someone travelling outside the village area.

ITU–VNL partnership project in TashiCell Bhutan network at Chamgang 16 Apr, 2014

Top of the VNL Rural site at Chamgang peeps out from the thick foliage of trees.

Bhutan’s first private mobile company Tashi InfoComm Limited (TICL) – popularly known as TashiCell – has selected  VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution to connect remote communities in the Himalayan Kingdom. After successful trials in Chamgang in 2012, VNL  deployed WorldGSM™ equipment in Tshangkha, Thrimshingla and Gayzore.

Two views of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural BTS site for Tashicell at Chamgang. Originally deployed as part of the ITU-VNL partnership project for the ITU “Connect a School, Connect a Community” program, the site is now integrated into the TashiCell Bhutan network.

“This is a smart initiative which sets a milestone in driving energy efficient affordable ICT access to rural and remote areas and benefits to communities where they live,” said Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau . “Such an innovative public-private-peoples’ partnership, which promotes mobile,GPRS and broadband access to rural and remote communities, represents an attractive, affordable, inclusive, scalable and sustainable step forward in providing digital opportunities for the people of Bhutan.”

Sweeping view of the valley from the base of the Chamgang site overlooking Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.

The project is a result of the partnership between the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL), announced at the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference in March 2010. The goal is to make WorldGSM™ solar powered solutions available to village schools and communities, as part of the ITU Connect a School, Connect a Community programme. A Cooperation Agreement between ITU & VNL was signed in December 2010 and a solar power based mobile transmitter was installed in Chamgang, Bhutan, in collaboration with Ministry of Information & Communications and TashiCell.

View from the top of the VNL Rural site-VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution emphasizes the role of compact modular design and small footprint, making it ideal for deployment in any tough terrain. This site is on a mountain slope with thick vegetation where there is hardly any place for the elaborate structures that are typical of traditional GSM solutions.

With a subscriber base of 115,000 and growing, TashiCell is present in all 20 Dzongkhags (administrative and judicial disctricts) of Bhutan, and is expanding operations to cover subscribers in more remote locations. VNL’s WorldGSM™ is a key part of their rollout strategy.

All sites are on mountain slopes usually accessible by a dirt track. That’s where VNL’s compact and lightweight modular equipment comes in handy- conveniently packed into boxes that allow easy handling in tough terrain conditions. Extremes of weather- rain, wind and snow-are another challenge that VNL has overcome in Bhutan. Temperatures at some locations can dip as low as -14 degrees Celsius. 

WorldGSM™ for Myanmar: Connecting the New Highway 15 Apr, 2014

The gleaming Yangon - Naypyidaw-Mandalay highway is a powerful symbol of Myanmar’s new dynamism and economic transformation. The challenge before state operator Myanma Post and Telecommunications (MPT) was to provide seamless mobile coverage on the highway that passes through some of the remotest parts of the country. VNL provided a seamless GSM network along almost 480 kms of the highway using the solar-powered WorldGSM™ solution.

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WorldGSM™ for Micronesia GSM network in the West Pacific Ocean 3 Mar, 2014

Another long journey for VNL - over 8000 kilometers east of India – took us to the middle of the western Pacific Ocean to the Federated States of Micronesia where local operator FSMTC (Federated States of Micronesia Telecommunications Corporation) has selected VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution for GSM connectivity at locations on the islands of Pohnpei and Yap.

The island nation of The Federated States of Micronesia consists of four states Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together they comprise around 607 islands with a combined area of 702sq.km. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and the Marianas, west of Nauru and the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 2,900 km north of eastern Australia and some 4,000 km southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.

The Federated States of Micronesia Telecommunications  Corporation (FSMTC) Headquarters in Pohnpei. The sole telecom operator in Micronesia (population 1,40,000) , FSMTC has 20,000 mobile subscribers.

Scenes from Pohnpei (population 35,000).

FSMTC COO Fredy S. Perman ( 4th from left in white shirt) and Technical Head Joseph Johnny – Manager Plant and Engg.(second row in gray T shirt) and other members of the FSMTC team with VNL’s Vikas Tyagi (centre in yellow t-shirt)

A view of the sea close to the Joe Site, in the south east part of Pohnpei.

Dirt track on the approach to Joe Site.

Joe Site, Pohnpei – VNL’s first ever installation in Micronesia. The 2 TRX VNL WorldGSMTM Rural BTS with 2 omni antennas sits atop a 55 meter high tower. FSMTC has 48 BTS sites across 4 islands.

Joe Site,Pohnpei : VNL WorldGSM TMbattery bank and CCU at the base of the site. It rains 4 days a week in Pohnpei so a tin sheet cover is a must.

View of the FSMTC NOC in Pohnpei.

VNL BSC in Pohnpei

Mission accomplished: Vikas Tyagi of VNL enjoys the local flavor of Unicorn fish after the Joe Site and South East Remote site go live.

Entel brings VNL WorldGSM™ to Bolivia 28 Feb, 2014

Breathtaking panorama of Maca Maca from the base of VNL WorldGSM™ Rural BTS site for Entel -300 meters above the settlements in the picture. Notice the winding road that leads to the site (right hand bottom corner).

Rollouts are underway for deploying 86 GSM sites for  Entel S.A.,Bolivia’s state-run telecom operator under the Cobertura Movil Rural (Rural Mobile Coverage - CMR) project. VNL’s solar powered WorldGSM™ telecommunications infrastructure solution will help Entel deliver sustainable mobile services to people in rural and remote locations across several provinces in Bolivia.

The VNL WorldGSM™ RBTS site overlooks Maca Maca

Entel’s multi-million dollar investment in VNL’s sustainable rural telecommunications solutions reflects Bolivia’s commitment to economic and social development of its people through telecommunications. Located at the highest altitudes of South America, Bolivia is a land locked country, rich in natural resources. However penetration of mobile and internet services is a concern with huge gaps in coverage in sub-urban areas, rural areas and mining and production centers that are vital for the economy.

A picturesque municipality – Maca Maca,Bolivia

A picturesque municipality – Maca Maca,Bolivia

As Entel embarks on a nationwide expansion program, integration of unconnected rural areas into the development mainstream and empowerment of disadvantaged sections of society is top priority .It’s efforts to expand its footprint are guided by the Political Constitution of the State which recognizes telecommunications as a basic right and emphasizes access and universal service obligations.

VNL’s Bolivia journey began in 2011 with successful trials for the Bolivian Government in two remote locations, Rio Seco and Yatarenda, falling under the city of Santa Cruz.

Base of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural Site with solar panels and battery bank in view

One of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural Sites deployed for Entel is located in the mountains overlooking the picturesque Municipality of Maca Maca, in Loayza Province Of La Paz Department, Bolivia. The site can only be accessed by a tough, winding road that climbs to the base of the tower perched on a slope 300 meters above the community (see pictures). The site brings Entel’s GSM network within reach of the 200 inhabitants of Maca Maca and 50 inhabitants in the small village of Caracato close by.

Maca Maca has just 200 inhabitants. The Entel site deployed by VNL is located in the mountains in the background

Maca Maca has just 200 inhabitants. The Entel site deployed by VNL is located in the mountains in the background

People in Maca Maca now have a choice after having shared a single phone booth that worked on the old DECT technology, all these years. Residents of Caracato are even more delighted because the village has never had any telecom service till now. Entel’s GSM network is a first for them, and a big step to empowerment in their daily lives.

VNL WorldGSM™ RBTS

Watch this space for more on Entel Bolivia deployments in the coming weeks.

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Introduces VNL’s “Green” Wi-Fi to Southern Virginia 18 Feb, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, USA, a leading open-access fiber network transport provider has announced the launch of a wireless broadband pilot project in Town of Halifax, Virginia, USA, using VNL’s solar powered Wi-Fi solution.

The historic county seat of Town of Halifax has been admired for its rich heritage of handsome houses, churches, and lush landscaping for over a century. The community there is preparing for a sustainable future which in their own words reflects “small town charm, relaxed rural retreat, wired to the world”. There is a major focus on revitalization and planning for economic growth in harmony with the natural surroundings. MBC found VNL’s sustainable WorldGSM solution – compact, unobtrusive, solar-powered, and delivering wireless broadband - ideal for this context.

MBC is keen on evaluating the possibilities of this technology for deployment on a larger scale in hard to reach rural and remote locations of the United States.

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Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Introduces “Green” Wi-Fi to Southern Virginia
Solar Powered Wireless Pilot Project Lands in Town of Halifax

South Boston, VA – February 14, 2014Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC), a successful wholesale open-access fiber network transport provider, announced today the launch of a wireless broadband pilot project in the Town of Halifax, Virginia to test the capability of Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) solar powered Wi-Fi equipment to provide wireless broadband access throughout the town.

MBC, in conjunction with Wireless ISP Gamewood Technologies Group, launched this pilot project to test the coverage, speed and functionality of a unique wireless rural broadband access equipment and evaluate the technology for wider deployment in rural, unserved communities.

VNL, a hi-tech company headquartered in India, has partnered with MBC for a new approach to delivering low-cost, GSM and high speed broadband to unserved rural areas across the globe. The Halifax project incorporates VNL’s unique WorldGSMTM Rural Site and Village Site solutions, which utilize solar power to run the wireless network. The wireless system is connected to MBC’s open-access fiber optic transport network that provides dedicated connectivity from the solar powered base station to Gamewood’s Internet Network.

“We are delighted to partner with MBC and Gamewood to deliver wireless broadband access in the Town of Halifax, Virginia, USA. This historic and scenic town is such a contrast to the harsh topography of remote areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America, where VNL has deployed GSM and broadband networks. That’s the beauty of a simple, sustainable solution like WorldGSM – it fits in fine, anywhere. Compact and green, it’s showing the way to deliver cost-effective access to unserved communities” said Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder Chairman and CEO of VNL.

Carl Espy, Halifax Town Manager said, “Downtown businesses and visitors to the historic County Seat were accustomed to free Wi-Fi when Pure Internet/Kinex offered the service until the company closed its office 2 years ago. MBC and Gamewood Technologies have provided their wireless expertise, allowing our community to once again possess an enhanced technology which improves the overall business climate and quality of life we seek as part of the town’s ongoing revitalization.”

“Gamewood Technology Group, Inc. is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Town and County of Halifax, MBC and VNL to bring these wireless services to the area. We look forward to building on this partnership and seeing how this pilot project can be used by the area residents and businesses successfully” said Ed Wilborne, Chief Information Officer of Gamewood.

“Bridging the Digital Divide is a critical piece of our mission,” said Tad Deriso, President & CEO of MBC. “We continue to try new things to enable ISP’s to expand their last-mile reach. We believe a solar-powered wireless broadband platform can be a benefit to continue expansion of low-cost wireless broadband services in hard to reach, rural areas of Southern Virginia.”

About Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities (MBC) is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization, committed to providing economic development leadership to southern Virginia. MBC promotes economic development in southern Virginia through the operation of a successful advanced open access fiber optic network, providing wholesale telecommunications transport services, colocation and tower leasing.  Since its inception in 2004 and by offering a state-of-the art fiber optic network, MBC has supported the recruitment of major investments including data centers, call center/operations centers, advanced manufacturing, research and development, and bio-tech industries. For more information, visit www.mbc-va.com.

About Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL)

Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) is a global pioneer in rural telecommunications with the award winning WorldGSMTM - a sustainable GSM and broadband solution, which helps mobile operators provide affordable access to unserved communities. For more on VNL please visit www.vnl.in

Media Contact
Manoj Bhan
Manoj.Bhan@vnl.in
+91 9999966056

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VNL WorldGSM™ in Safaricom Kenya Network 18 Dec, 2012

Hon. Danson Mwazo, Tourism Minister of Kenya cutting the ribbon and inaugurating the VNL WorldGSM™ Village Site for Safaricom at Jora Village. Also seen: Ms. Sylvia Mulinge – GM Enterprise Business Unit, Safaricom.

Moving ahead in its ambitious plans to expand network coverage and reach subscribers in remote uncovered locations of Kenya, leading mobile operator Safaricom has deployed VNL’s solar powered WorldGSM™ base stations in Bungule and Jora in Taita Taveta County of Kenya.

The inauguration of the first solar powered VNL Rural site was held on August 17, 2012 at Bungule followed by the inauguration of a VNL Village Site at village Jora close by.

VNL WorldGSM™ Village Site in village Jora, Kenya. Top view (L) and solar panels (R).

The ceremonial ribbon cutting was done by Hon. Danson Mwazo, Tourism Minister of Kenya, who is also the Member of Parliament for the area. A local custom (akin to knighthood) of conferring the status of Taita Elder on the Hon. Minister was attended by hundreds of village folk including over 150 students of the school.

The ribbon cutting was accompanied by a Cultural Show of dance and music and speeches at the Jora Primary School. This school is located in Jora Village about 3kms off the road leading  to Tanzania through Tsavo West National Park.

Children from the village school watching the event.

Senior team members from Safaricom were present as the solar powered GSM site was dedicated to the people of Bungule. They included Ms. Sylvia Mulinge - GM Enterprise Business Unit, Mr. Robert Mutai - Network Engineering Head, and Mr.Nick Mruttu – Head of Consumer Sales.

Mr.Mutai, commenting on  VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution said that it was the first of its kind  solar /battery hybrid powered  GSM solution  with  such a  high level of integration in a village site.

Preparing for dance and music for the event.

Located in Kenya’s coastal region nearly 360 kms from the capital Nairobi, Bungule is sparsely populated and not very developed. It falls under Voi constituency of Taita Taveta County, and lies on the edge of the Tsavo National Park. In the past, subscribers of Safaricom in Bungule and Jora had to go quite a distance from their homes –up to the highway in many cases – in search of a signal for their phone. Often they ran into wild animals that posed grave danger to their lives. Faced with these challenges quite a few users became dormant. Now connecting to family, friends and the outside world is convenient - thanks to VNL’s solar powered WorldGSM™ base station that Safaricom chose for this location. Today there are close to 500 active subscribers.

Bungule and Jora have a harsh terrain.

So far VNL has deployed 1 Rural RBTS site (2/2/2 TRX) and 1 Village VBTS (2TRX) in Bungule. Both these sites work independent of the power grid and require no diesel generator backup. These completely solar powered base stations provide GSM services with an autonomy of 3 days. The VNL NOC in Nairobi reports that the VNL VBTS is picking 70-85 Erlang traffic and the  overall traffic (RBTS +VBTS) which is around 160-180 Erlang per day. The sites are Broadband ready and in the next phase Safaricom will plan Wi-Fi access in the local area.

Similar sites deployed by VNL elsewhere in Africa have yielded savings of around US $24,000 per site each year.

Rajiv Mehrotra Chairman & CEO VNL said,” VNL is delighted to partner Safaricom and bring the benefits of its Zero Opex WorldGSM solution to the network and empower the lives of the people of Bungule.”