VNL Telecommunication News
Home > News & Events > VNL’s Solar Powered GSM Base Stations to Be Part of ITU School and Community Network Initiatives in South Asia

VNL’s Solar Powered GSM Base Stations to Be Part of ITU School and Community Network Initiatives in South Asia

New Delhi – Friday, 4 June 2010: VNL today announced that its award-winning solar-powered GSM base stations will be used to build ITU sponsored networks in South Asia. The networks are being built as part of the ITU’s Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative, a public-private partnership run by the ITU to promote broadband Internet connectivity for schools in developing countries around the world. The VNL networks will provide both GSM and mobile broadband coverage to schools and villages in remote rural areas in South Asia – and will go live during Q4 2010.

Mr. Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder, Chairman & CEO of VNL (left) and Mr. Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (right) at the quadrennial ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC 10) in Hyderabad, India.

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.

VNL’s solar-powered WorldGSM base station has been specifically designed to enable mobile operators to reach remote rural areas where ARPUs are less than $2 a month – and still make a profit.

Mr Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder Chairman and CEO of VNL said:

“The ITU has recognised that our equipment is unlike anything else available on the market today. It was developed for deployments just like these in rural Asia where people have never had access to telephony.”

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.

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 in second in the “Green Network Hardware and Infrastructure” category at the 2009 CTIA Wireless E-Tech Awards.

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


  • 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 Watts per base station compared to the 3,000 Watts required for traditional GSM. Each site can be powered by two 4 m² solar panels, rather than the 200 m² panel required to power a traditional GSM base station.

For more information, visit or contact VNL’s international PR representative Bridget Fishleigh: +44 7946 342 903,, Skype: bridgetfishleigh. In India, please contactManoj Bhan: +91 99 999 66056,

Press button to move up