Kaobagou, North Benin
Team VNL is proud to be associated with Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) for the launch of their commercial service in Benin. The very first AMN base station site at Kaobagou in northern Benin went live on January 24, 2014. The BTS and BSC are from VNL, working in collaboration with Gilat, who provided the satellite backhaul solution and funding. With the beginning of commercial services a community of some 5,000 people is now able to enjoy for the very first time voice and data communications services which are taken for granted in most of the world. The site is integrated with the core network of Bell Benin Communications (BBCom). Located deep in rural Benin some 750 km north of Cotonou, the base station is connected directly via satellite link to the AMN Teleport in Cotonou and from there via a direct microwave radio link to the operator’s switching network.
The only way: This bumpy trail branches off the main highway some 75 km before Kaobagou
AMN is on a mission to build mobile network base stations serving rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa which have no existing service, providing mobile network operators with a capex-free route to add new subscribers and new revenues.
Work on to install the Gilat VSAT dish at the AMN site
The AMN base station in Benin utilises a solar-based electrical power system and a satellite-based backhaul communication link to make the base station completely autonomous with no reliance on any local infrastructure. It has a 45m (150 ft) mast with a 2TRx capacity VNL WorldGSM™ BTS and a pair of high-gain, omni-directional antennas to deliver service to a range of up to 7 km from the base station, and covering approximately 150 sq.km. The rural cell with VSAT backhaul is another joint initiative of VNL and Gilat, after a successful collaboration for a similar solution in the Entel Bolivia network recently.
Solar panels cover the racks that house Gilat’s satellite modem and the power supply to the VNL BTS at the AMN Benin site.
The base station is already carrying significant levels of communications traffic. The operator sold over 500 SIMs more than one week before the launch of the service, and the local retailers of SIMs and airtime credit in the village were doing brisk trade both before and after the launch. AMN generates its revenue from a revenue-share agreement with the operator.
More views of the first AMN site at Kaobagou,Benin. Leadcom managed the civil works and supplied the tower. (Picture Courtesy: AMN)
According to AMN, ”The base station in Benin is currently processing approximately 4,000 voice-minutes of traffic each day, equating to around 120,000 minutes per month. We expect these levels to nearly double over the next 6-7 months through the adoption period in which new subscribers start to use the service, and also as the subscribers use the network more and more.”
Curious onlookers: Kapil Singh of VNL surrounded by children from the local school in Kaobagou watching the erection of the tower in their village.
Team AMN (L to R): Jules Degila - VP Business Development, Michael Darcy - CEO, and Emmanuel Pobee - VP Engineering at the launch of commercial service at the AMN Mobile Network Base Station at Kaobagou, north Benin. (Picture Courtesy: AMN)
AMN Benin is currently in the process of building out a network of mobile base stations in Benin. When complete, the Benin network will comprise some 200 base stations, serving 1.5 million people and 725,000 mobile subscribers. In September 2013, AMN announced that they would invest $550 million building 5,000 mobile base stations for operators across more than 12 countries in Africa.
Way to go AMN!
Kapil Singh -VNL’s Senior Tech Lead, busy at work integrating VNL’s BSS with the BBCom MSC.
Picture Courtesy: AMN
For more on the launch click the link below:
Base of VNL WorldGSM™ 2TRX Rural Site for MTN at Dakpiemyli.The solar panels provide 3 day power autonomy. The mast is 30m high.
VNL has successfully completed trials of its solar powered WorldGSM™ rural GSM solution for MTN Ghana at two remote village locations, Zinido and Dakpiemyli in the Tamale region of Northern Ghana in June 2013. Zinido (population: just over 2000 with 320 mud hut dwellings) is slightly larger than Dakpiemyli (population:around 1500 with 230 dwellings -most of them farmers). Both villages lack modern infrastructure like roads and power supply.
VNL provides autonomy of 3 days at the 2-2 TRX remote site with 12 solar panels in a compact array.
Before the trials, village residents were forced to leave their homes and walk up to 5 kms in search of a GSM signal to operate their mobile phone. (See the “talking tree picture”).MTN found the VNL WorldGSM™ solution to be tailormade for this kind of problem. One of the guiding principles for the clean sheet design of the WorldGSM™ rural solution is to provide good signal quality in the village, inside homes. No compromises.
View of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural BTS and omni antennas atop the 30m mast in Dakpiemyli
The top of the VNL WorldGSM™ 2-2 TRX Rural site for MTN in Zinido village, northern Ghana, showing the WorldGSM™ Rural BTS and antennas. The solar powered site works independent of the power grid and requires no diesel generator backup, air-conditioning, shelter or external cooling. It provides GSM and GPRS connectivity to the village and adjoining areas.
The MTN Zinido site is a 2-2 TRX configuration site and the Dakpiemyli site is a 2TRX configuration. Both have 3 days autonomy in a region with heavy rains throughout the year.The existing MTN transmission at Tampion and Banvim has been extended to Zinido and Dakpimyli respectively, using VNL’s own IP transmission solution.
Another view of VNL WorldGSM™ 2TRX Rural Site for MTN at Dakpiemyli. Notice the protective perimeter fencing. In some deployments across the globe VNL has successfully deployed video surveillance, video analytics and public address systems as part of a complete security requirement against acts of vandalism and theft.
VNL’s WorldGSM™ solutions are deployed in Ghana in partnership with local company Subah Infosolutions Ghana Limited (link: http://www.subahghana.com/) who are committed to bringing the most innovative technology solutions to Ghana to address the unique challenges of clients such as MTN.VNL’s sustainable solar powered rural GSM and broadband solution is ideal for remote locations where affordable services are badly required but can only be offered if operating costs are within limits to give a viable business case.
Mud huts in Zinido village seen through the perimeter fencing at the VNL site.
The two sites are now commercial revenue generating sites within the MTN Ghana network and provide GSM and GPRS service to over 3000 subscribers generating roughly 200 erlang of voice traffic daily. The mobile network is used primarily by people in the village to speak to their children who are employed in other towns or to connect to someone travelling outside the village area.
Evolution and expansion of cellular networks has lead to an increased demand for all encompassing coverage. To meet these requirements, operators must deploy networks in increasingly more remote locations.
In remote areas, optical fiber backhaul is generally not available. Point-to-point wireless microwave backhaul provides good dedicated bandwidth but may not be a cost-effective and economical way to deliver voice and data. In this scenario, integration of voice and data with a satellite backhaul provides a viable business case.
VNL’s GoSAT 2000 Rural GSM and Broadband Solution with satellite backhaul features advanced compression that enables operators to deliver cost-effective quality voice and high speed data services. This platform deploys consistent, high speed and secure wireless connections amongst multiple remote locations from the satellite remote station using high capacity Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint links up to a distance of 100 kms to ensure a reliable and robust last mile transmission for both voice and data.
Village children with members of the Brazilian Delegation in front of a VNL WorldGSM™ Village Base station on the roof of a house.
The Fourth BRICS Summit was hosted in New Delhi on 29 March 2012 under the overarching theme of “BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity.”
On the sidelines of the summit, VNL was privileged to host a high level Delegation from Santa Catarina (SC) State, Brazil, who visited VNL sites in villages in the district of Alwar, Rajasthan, a few hours away from Delhi.
The Chief of the Delegation was State Congressman and 1st Secretary State Govt. of Santa Catarina, Dr. Jaílson Lima da Silva accompanied by State Congresswoman
Ms. Dirce Heidersheidt, State Congressman Mr. Mauro Nadal, Mr. Ronério Heiderscheidt, Mayor of Palhoça City, SC state, Mr. Paulo Roberto Eccel, Mayor of Brusque, SC state,
Mr. Ailton Nazareno Soares, Rector of UNISUL (University of Santa Catarina), Ms. Katia Sarlet Rezende, from the Department of Institutional Relations of Santa Catarina, Mr. Jucinei Cardoso, Journalist ALESC TV and Radio and Dr. Jean Christian Weiss, Lawyer.
Members of the Delegation get to know the WorldGSM™ site in detail
The Delegation was keen to understand Indian innovation and visiting the VNL solar powered GSM and broadband sites in the villages gave them insight into how sustainable technologies could be used to meet the challenges of development.
VNL‘s award winning WorldGSM™ technology is ideally suited to establishing sustainable GSM & Broadband networks for unconnected populations in small towns and remote locations. This is a catalyst in the socio-economic development of the community and adds to the GDP.
The Delegation was thrilled to see the technology at work in the villages and spent several hours interacting with village folk and schoolchildren,braving the heat and dust that is typical at this time of the year.
In the classroom with children: (L to R) Mr. Ravi Ailawadhi, Dr. Jailson Lima da Silva and Ms. Dirce Heidersheidt
Broadband for village schools : Dr. Jailson Lima da Silva (L) talks to a young student along with Mr. Ravi Ailawadhi (R) in front of a VNL Solar Powered Rural Internet Kiosk – “Gurukul”.
Members of the Delegation with staff and students and village folk at the village school. (L toR) Ms. Dirce Heidersheidt, Dr. Jean Christian Weis
and Mr. Ronério Heiderscheidt
Members of the Delegation with staff, students and more village folk at the village school. (Standing L to R) Dr. Jailson Lima da Silva, Mr. Ravi Ailawadhi,
Mr. Mauro Nada and Ms. Katia Sarlet Rezende (seated in center)
Mr. Ailton Nazareno Soares and Dr. Jailson Lima da Silva access the Internet on their laptop and handheld devices using broadband connectivity over Wi-Fi brought by VNL’s solar powered WorldGSM™ solution
In June 2011, VNL signed a “General Protocol of Intent of Partnership in Strategic and Future Projects” with A Fundacao Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina - (UNISUL), A Universidade Estadual de Goias-UEG,and A Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso (UNEMAT).
The Protocol aims to facilitate technical, scientific and technological cooperation through four Pilot Projects in the State of Santa Catarina ,Mato Grosso and Goias -specifically in the municipalities of Palhoca and Aguas Mornas.
These projects are :
During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, James Barton of Developing Telecoms met with Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder, Chairman & CEO of VNL to discuss the potential of solar powered network infrastructure to connect the next billion mobile subscribers across the world.
Developing Telecoms recently had the opportunity to speak to VNL Chairman & CEO Rajiv Mehrotra about the firm’s activities in the field of rural connectivity.
A veteran of the telecom industry, Mr Mehrotra was instrumental in projects which brought first cable TV, then wireless telephones to hundreds of thousands of Indian villages. He later founded Shyam Telecom, the flagship of the Shyam Group. Various subsidiaries of the group have launched GSM, CDMA and VSAT services across India.
Mr Mehrotra founded VNL in 2004 as part of his vision to connect the billions of unconnected in rural areas. The company’s solar-powered WorldGSM system is designed for deployment in rural communities, and has enormous potential for emerging markets.
Read more on their web site: Developing Telecoms
The world’s largest GSM conference and expo attracted even more exhibitors and visitors than last year. The show received a staggering increase in attendance and that resulted in even more numbers of attendees visiting our booth.
View of Booth from Hall 2 Entrance at Mobile World Congress 2011
VNL’s booth at #2B47, along with Shyam Telecom and Shyam Networks across the aisle at #2B33, were the largest and most visible in Hall 2. Taking up 234 sqm in total, VNL’s booth showcased an actual Village Site deployment configuration in the VNL booth.
VNL’s booth at Mobile World Congress 2011.
Solar and other alternative energy-based solutions were available all over the floor, from solar, wind, and hybrid systems to a variety of fuel-cells. It is clear that the telecom industry has taken up the mantle to deploy more green telecom solutions in the coming years and many of the operators we spoke with are ready to deploy new green powered technologies in the near future. VNL was busy completing a number of MOUs and orders from the meeting rooms in our booth at the show. These orders are the culmination of the many trial deployments we’ve deployed on three continents over the past year.
Rajiv Mehrotra speaks with Shri. Sachin Pilot, Hon. Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology, Govt. of India at Mobile World Congress 2011
The bottom line? In our opinion, Africa is at the forefront, with more mobile operators at the testing or deployment stage using non-traditional power sources for their mobile networks. Latin America is showing signs of increased use of green telecom, especially for intra-city coverage along highways. Asia, for VNL, has more deployments on the ground now, radiating and starting to connect the next billion. We were glad to be able to present our products to a seasoned crowd of operators already working in the same direction – connecting rural networks in a sustainable and affordable manner that serves the underserved across the world.
Rajiv Mehrotra discusses how mobile operators can become broadband service providers with minimal investment with Dr. J. S. Sarma, Chairperson, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India at Mobile World Congress 2011
Signage at the show covered VNL’s unique Cascading Star Architecture and new Infrastructure Sharing concept to visitors to the booth.
Rajiv Mehrotra discusses VNL’s new multi-operator infrastructure sharing capabilities with Shri. Sachin Pilot, Hon. Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology, Govt. of India at Mobile World Congress 2011
Rajiv Mehrotra introduces Cascading Star Architecture with Broadband to visitors to the booth.
VNL’s pioneering work has been widely praised: in December, VNL won the Telecom Asia Readers Choice Award. In 2010, Fast Company named VNL one of the “Fast 50: The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies”. In December, 2009, VNL was named as a Technology Pioneer 2010 by The World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org). In November, 2009, 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. In September, 2009, 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. 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.
Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder, Chairman & CEO of VNL, speaks with visitors to the booth.
Davos, Switzerland – January 25, 2011: VNL and Boston-Power, two World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Award recipients, today announced a cooperation intended to provide long lasting, green energy storage to a telecommunications solution that is already delivering the transformative capability of cellular and broadband services to rural geographies worldwide, outside the reach of the mobile telecommunications network footprint.
Fellow 2010 Technology Pioneer Award winners Rajiv Mehrotra, founder, chairman and CEO of Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL), and Dr. Christina Lampe-Önnerud, founder and CEO of Boston-Power, were first introduced in January 2010 at the 40th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Their discussions quickly prompted a resolution for their firms to investigate deploying technology available today that exemplifies their shared belief in the power of innovation to bring about positive change in society.
Olivier Schwab, Director, Head of Technology Pioneers stated:
“The joint efforts of VNL and Boston-Power represent precisely the sort of collaboration The World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers Programme fosters. These companies are tangible proof that entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and a commitment to the greater good play key roles in shaping and improving society. We wish them every success in their dedication to benefiting the lives of the enormous number of people around the globe living in developing, underserved communities.”
VNL’s WorldGSM™ is the industry’s first microtelecom solution, a complete solar-powered GSM and broadband system optimized for the more than two billion individuals who live in rural areas outside of the mobile telecommunications network footprint. These individuals typically have less than US$2 a month to spend on a mobile service.
At the heart of the VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution is a compact solar-powered base station that draws no power from the electricity grid and is designed for easy set-up – in less than half a day – by individuals without technical expertise. It requires no air conditioning or shelter and runs on the power of a light bulb. Boston-Power’s lithium-ion battery system is currently being tested by VNL for deployment in customer field trials to provide a long life option for energy storage.
Boston-Power’s innovation in extended cycle life, dependable performance in extreme climates, high energy density in terms of both weight and footprint, and safety make it a compelling alternative for providing cost-effective (in terms of total cost of ownership), reliable energy storage for VNL WorldGSM™ base stations. In addition, Boston-Power’s standing as the only battery of its type certified by the world’s most stringent eco-certifying bodies simplifies VNL’s recycling efforts.
Boston-Power’s lithium-ion technology will store the solar energy collected by the VNL WorldGSM™ base station, supporting its existing ability to operate for at least three days when solar energy is not available. VNL WorldGSM™ systems powered by Boston-Power are currently undergoing testing; larger scale deployment is expected to start in various geographies in 2011.
Mr. Mehrotra stated:
“From the moment I met Dr. Lampe-Önnerud, I recognized we shared the same deep belief in the boundless good that technological innovation can bring. That Boston-Power’s pioneering work in lithium-ion energy storage could play a role in our own WorldGSM solution was also clear. It’s gratifying to see conversations begun at The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting translate into meaningful initiatives not even a year later. In our mission to connect the unconnected with affordable voice and broadband services, this development holds great promise.”
Dr. Lampe-Önnerud added:
“Our mission is to build a company that makes a difference and our collaboration with VNL is an excellent example. We commend the important work that VNL is doing and are committed to supporting Mr. Mehrotra and his team to bring its innovative solution to an enormous, underserved population. We also applaud the vital mission of The World Economic Forum in serving as a catalyst to bring together innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world.”
The prestigious World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer award recognizes the most innovative start-ups from around the world that will have a critical impact on the future of business and society. The identification of the Technology Pioneers is the result of a vigorous selection process for which the Forum received hundreds of applications from around the world, evaluated by a panel of dozens of global technology experts.
VNL (www.vnl.in) is substantially changing the way operators will build networks to connect rural and remote areas in the future. As the innovator of zero OPEX networks and the pioneer of Microtelecom, their simple to install solar powered base stations help mobile operators build a viable business by reaching rural markets profitably. VNL’s award-winning WorldGSM™ is a new approach to delivering affordable voice and broadband services to these markets viably and sustainably. It’s the first example of Microtelecom, the re-engineering of telecommunications to meet the needs of rural and remote communities. The management team includes telecom industry veterans with vast experience in bringing products and services to entirely new markets. Its Founder, Chairman & CEO, Rajiv Mehrotra, started the Shyam group of companies and established some of the earliest GSM, CDMA and fixed networks in India serving millions of people today. For more information, visit the company website at www.vnl.in.
Boston-Power, Inc. is an award-winning provider of next-generation lithium-ion battery technology. Designed to fuel a wide range of applications, its flagship offering, Sonata®, serves as the foundation for a new era of longer lasting, faster charging, safer and environmentally sustainable notebook computer batteries. The company’s Swing™ product delivers unmatched capabilities for Battery Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (BEV/PHEV), and utility energy storage applications. Founded in 2005 and with more than 130 patents filed, Boston-Power is led by Founder and CEO Dr. Christina Lampe-Önnerud, an internationally recognized innovator, entrepreneur and technology advisor with regard to portable power, energy storage and climate change. To date, the company has raised $191 million in venture funding and has earned accolades for its executive leadership and technology from organizations that include The Wall Street Journal, the World Economic Forum, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA). Boston-Power is headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, and has Six Sigma-level mass manufacturing operations in Asia.
CHEN PR for Boston-Power
mobile: +91 98112 01999
Nomad Communications for VNL
mobile : +44 7946 342 903
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Boston-Power®, Sonata® and Swing™ are trademarks of Boston-Power, Inc. Other brand names or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. VNL® and the VNL logo are registered trademarks of Vihaan Networks Limited.
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