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VNL’s Solar-Powered GSM Base Station Shortlisted for Two GSMA Awards at Mobile World Congress; To Announce Deployment Progress in India, Africa and South East Asia at Show

The GSMA has announced the shortlist for its prestigious Global Mobile Awards 2010.

VNL’s zero-opex solar-powered GSM base station – developed specifically for use in rural areas where people have less than US$2 a month to spend on their phone bills – has been shortlisted in both the ‘best network innovation’ and the ‘best green programme, product or initiative’ categories.

VNL is the first and only company to have found a way of building sustainable telephone networks for the three billion people (half the world’s population) who live in rural areas not covered by a mobile network. Of this number, some 1.6 billion people have no electricity and another one billion live in areas with unreliable access to power (GSMA figures).

VNL’s pioneering work has been widely praised; In December VNL was named as a technology pioneer by The World Economic Forum ( In September it was named the third most innovative company – and the most innovative telecoms company – in the world in the Wall Street Journal’s annual Technology Innovation Awards. In November VNL was selected as a 2009 Top Pick and named as a company to watch in the wireless infrastructure market by Light Reading, a specialist telecoms analyst and publishing house. VNL also won the “best technology foresight” category at the 2008 World Communications Awards and came second in the “Green Network Hardware and Infrastructure” category at the 2009 CTIA Wireless E-Tech Awards.

VNL will be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress (hall 2 booth B33).

Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board of the GSMA, said:

“Competition for these awards is fierce, with more than 500 entries – including many of an exceptional standard – and a highly discerning independent judging panel to impress; to be shortlisted is quite an achievement.”


For years, operators and GSM equipment vendors have struggled with the same problem: Traditional telecom 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 six years re-engineering GSM to overcome these challenges. The result is WorldGSM – the world’s first truly environmentally sustainable mobile network

VNL’s WorldGSM overcomes the many barriers to serving rural markets. 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-optimised 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 six hours by two unskilled people.
  • 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 opens up a new microtelecom business model where operators partner with local entrepreneurs to accelerate deployment and reduce costs still further.

VNL’s WorldGSM has been installed in more than 50 villages in rural Rajasthan, India’s largest state; for the first time these rural communities have network coverage. Unlike traditional GSM base stations, the village sites need no shelter, air conditioning, mains power, generator or diesel fuel. Operators in Africa and South East Asia are also rolling out networks.

For more information, visit or contact VNL’s PR representative Bridget Fishleigh +44 7946 342 903,

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