Who is VNL?

Launched in July 2008, telecom equipment vendor VNL has finally cracked the problem facing telephone operators in the developing world: How to provide affordable telephone services to vast rural communities – and still turn a profit?

VNL has spent the last four years developing a solar powered GSM system. It is specifically designed to enable operators to profitably provide affordable telephone services to low density, low ARPU communities around the world.

VNL is privately owned with headquarters in New Delhi, India and R&D in both Delhi and Stockholm, Sweden.

What market is VNL serving?

VNL helps operators reach rural markets profitably.

Operators in developing countries are only skimming the surface of their market potential. At this point, mobile penetration and subscriber numbers in most major metros are at saturation level.

The only way for operators to get new customers is to drop rates, offer better deals and poach from competitors.

For years, operators have been looking at ways to build a business case around connecting the 1.5 billion unconnected people in low income, isolated communities around the world. So far, no one has been able to profitably construct networks based on low density usage where ARPUs are around two to five dollars a month.

Operators are in business to make profit. They can’t afford to roll out networks if they can’t make money doing it.

The rural paradox has been that rates are too high when profit is factored in, and profit is nonexistent when rates are affordable.

What does VNL provide?

VNL provides an end-to-end GSM system for rural and remote areas. There are no compromises in quality and service, only re-engineering to reduce network complexity and power consumption.

Traditional GSM was designed for high density, urban markets – not for low density, rural ones. In the rural scenario, it costs too much, is too expensive to run, uses too much power and is too difficult to deploy.

VNL’s WorldGSM™ technology has been specifically developed and re-engineered to overcome three main obstacles:

  1. No electricity – or it’s just on for an hour or so a day
  2. Poor roads. It might take days to reach these areas
  3. No skilled engineers.

Read more about WorldGSM™ in the WorldGSM™ Q & A »


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