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16 Apr

ITU–VNL partnership project in TashiCell Bhutan network at Chamgang

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Apr 16, 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.

Facts & Figures

“Mobile Network viability in developing markets is threatened by +50% rise in electricity generation costs by 2014”

- Juniper Research