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PRESS RELEASE: Zero Opex Now Commercially Available in the Americas

News from VNL – Main Hall, Stand 3

VNL announces availability of its solar-powered GSM system for rural areas where ARPUs are less than $2

AMERICAS COM, JUNE 30, 2009 – VNL today announced that WorldGSM, the world’s first solar powered GSM system specifically designed for remote rural areas in South America and throughout the world, is now commercially available.

VNL’s WorldGSM enables mobile operators to reach remote rural areas where ARPUs are less than $2 a month – and still make a profit.

For years, operators and GSM equipment vendors have struggled with the same problem: traditional GSM equipment is not designed for the unique challenges posed by remote rural areas. It costs too much, is too expensive to run, uses too much power and is too difficult to deploy (especially in areas with no electricity, poor roads and a lack of trained engineers).

VNL has spent the last 5 years re-engineering GSM to overcome these challenges. The result is WorldGSM – the world’s first truly environmentally sustainable mobile network.

Trials in remote villages in Rajasthan, the largest state in India, have recently finished. Many people made their first ever phone calls thanks to VNL.

VNL’s WorldGSM uses solar power as its single energy source – no diesel generators required. It is made for simple delivery and deployment by local workers – all resulting in zero opex, dramatically lower capex and near zero maintenance. The use of solar power not only drastically reduces operating expenses for mobile operators but also contributes to a much lower environmental impact. VNL estimates that mobile networks in India alone require two billion litres of diesel every year to power back-up diesel generators.

WorldGSM won the “best technology foresight” category at last year’s World Communications Awards and was runner up in the “Green Network Hardware and Infrastructure” category at the 2009 CTIA Wireless E-Tech Awards.


WorldGSM overcomes the many barriers to serving rural markets without making any unnecessary compromises. The system integrates with existing GSM macro networks and extends them into previously unreachable rural areas. It is 3GPP compliant and compatible with all standard handsets. The highlights:

  • Zero opex – made possible by major reductions in power consumption; allowing for the use of solar power as the single energy source. No diesel generators are required.
  • Low capex – priced at less than traditional GSM base stations -so that it’s profitable even at very low population densities and ARPU levels.
  • Rural-optimized and easy to transport – compact and rugged; can even be transported on bullock carts.
  • Self-deploying and near-zero maintenance – can be installed in just 6 hours by 2 unskilled persons and can be maintained by local workers.
  • Solar powered – needs only 50–150 W per base station compared to the 3000 W required for traditional GSM. Each site can be powered by a 2-8 m² solar panel, rather than the 200 m² panel required to power a traditional GSM base station.

WorldGSM also opens up a new microtelecom business model – involving microfinance – where operators can partner with local entrepreneurs to accelerate deployment and reduce costs still further.

Rajiv Mehrotra, VNL’s Chairman, CEO and founder, says;

“We have overcome the challenges of providing GSM networks in rural areas. Now operators have a truly viable way to build profitable networks to connect the next billion mobile users.”

WorldGSM can be seen at VNL’s booth (stand 3) at AmericasCOM in Rio de Janeiro 30 June – 1 July.

For more information, visit or contact VNL’s PR representatives Rafael Junquera (+1-305-735-8095, or Skype: rafaeljunquera) or Juan Gimenez (+54 11 4772 8777, or Skype: tucholin.

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