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VNL teams up with Gilat for Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) in Benin. 5 May, 2014


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:

 

 

Wrap Up of Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, Spain 21 Feb, 2011

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
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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder, Chairman & CEO of VNL, speaks with visitors to the booth.

For more information, visit www.vnl.in or contact VNL’s PR representative Bridget Fishleigh +44 7946 342 903, bridget@nomadcomms.com

VNL Participates at Mobile World Congress 2011 14 Jan, 2011

VNL announces its participation again at GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 14th – 17th, 2011.

VNL’s participation will announce the addition of broadband services as part of their award-winning WorldGSM™ solution worldwide - the solar powered GSM network infrastructure equipment specifically made for rural areas with ARPUs of less than $2. WorldGSM™ is the first commercially viable GSM system that is independent of the power grid. It runs exclusively on solar power and requires no diesel generator backup. It is also designed for simple delivery and deployment by local, untrained workers – all resulting in zero OPEX, dramatically lower CAPEX, and near zero maintenance.

The next billion subscribers will be coming from rural populations, away from saturated urban markets. If you’re planning on visiting Mobile World Congress 2011, stop by VNL’s booth and see the future of rural wireless telephony. VNL is changing the DNA of rural telecom by providing commercially viable new building blocks that will transform the way you build your networks in the future

Visit us in Booth #2B47 to learn more.

Also Visit VNL at:

  • June 21 – 24, 2011: CommunicAsia in Singapore, booth # 1H2-01

PRESS RELEASE: Zero Opex Now Commercially Available in the Americas 24 Jun, 2009

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.

<h4>OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO RURAL MARKETS</h4>
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 www.vnl.in or contact VNL’s PR representatives Rafael Junquera (+1-305-735-8095, rafael.junquera@tele-medios.com or Skype: rafaeljunquera) or Juan Gimenez (+54 11 4772 8777, juan.gimenez@tele-medios.com or Skype: tucholin.

Green Revolution: Vendors Push Low-Energy Gear 23 Jun, 2009

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The green theme has taken center stage this week, with vendors stepping up to showcase their low-energy and clean tech credentials.

Leading the charge is Indian vendor VNL, which yesterday launched what it claims is the world’s first 100% solar-powered GSM base station designed specifically for off-grid remote areas. VNL chairman and CEO Rajiv Mehrotra told Show Daily that its WorldGSM(tm) BTS requires almost no opex. The solar panels, which have a life expectancy of 20 years, need to be dusted once a week in most areas.

Read the complete article (PDF) »

Comms Day International Edition: June 18, 2009

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VNL’s solar-power GSM nodes now commercial available

VNL has developed a solar-powered WorldGSM base station for rural villages officially launched at Singapore’s CommunicAsia trade show yesterday. Rajiv Mehrotra, founder, CEO and chairman of VNL, told Comms Day that the system will provide remote villages with GSM coverage through a model that encourages local entrepreneurs while alleviating the capex and opex obligations for operators.

Read the complete article on Page 3 (PDF) »

Telecom: India’s Knight in Shining Armor 5 Mar, 2009

“When the United States sneezes, the world catches a cold.” However, the telecom sector in India seems to have clearly defied this saying by witnessing robust growth in the past quarter.

Picture this, the total telecom subscriber base for India grew from 70.83 million in the first quarter of 2008 to 90.98 million in the second quarter. If you thought this was outstanding, there is more to come. Telecom companies added a record 15 million customers last month. The numbers can make anyone dizzy, especially at this time when nearly all industries across the world are witnessing a massive slowdown.

There is also clear evidence that revenue from telecom services is unlikely to be hurt by a recession. It is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and India is projected to become the second largest global telecom market by 2010. When closely looking at the other sectors in the country, telecom has clearly survived the present slowdown. Contrast this to sectors like real estate, automobiles and construction which have been hit hard. The commodity sector has also been hit despite the rising demand, and job buoyancy in the IT sector has decreased as well.

What’s more, 20 important deals worth $9.15 billion took place in India’s telecom sector this fiscal. The largest deal during the period was the buyout of a 26 percent stake in Tata Teleservices by Japanese company NTT DoCoMo Inc. for $2.7 billion. Other major deals included Italian multinational Telecom Italia’s acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Unitech Telecom for $2 billion and Dubai-based Emirates Telecommunications Corp’s (Etisalat) buyout of a 45 percent stake in Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd. for $900 million.

India: massive mobile industry growth

Telecom is clearly shining amidst the gloom. The Indian wireless industry, with a 32% penetration is the second largest after China in terms of subscribers at 325 million. Reliance Communications launched its GSM service in January and by the end of the month it had made a record by acquiring over half a million subscribers. The GSM subscriber base had touched 27.25 crore in January 2009. More recently, State owned MTNL’s launch of 3G services – ‘Jaadu’ – is all set to create further magic.

Predictably, this growth is now coming from the hugely untapped rural market consisting of villages and small towns. According to figures from Q2 2008, rural India has so far contributed a 71% growth in the telecom sector, while the remaining 29% growth came from urban India. The rural segment is witnessing a growth of 8-10% every month – giving a substantial boost to the telecom sector.

In the village of Karanehalli, about 40 miles from India’s high-tech capital of Bangalore, mobile phones have changed the way farmers do business. Here, a farmer commonly does not have a toilet for his home or a tractor for his field. But when a cellular tower was erected in his village, he splurged on a cell phone.

Here in Karanehalli, the old family tradition of crushing rice with a massive stone roller has not changed, but a mobile phone has certainly changed farming. Farmers use it to decide when to plant and harvest by calling other farmers, to get the best prices for rice, coconuts and jasmine by calling wholesalers, and to save hours of time waiting on the road for deliveries and pickups that rarely come on time. Farmers believe that their life is much better with the mobile phone, as they can be reached by anyone while they are working in the fields. In fact, a majority of the rural population thinks that they are in a better shape after the global crisis.

People who have observed this sector closely would mirror our views that the Indian telecom has stood strong against these tough times. In the next couple of months, India will rise into a towering position in terms of telecom subscriber base. VNL’s revolutionary WorldGSM™ system, which was recently showcased at MWC 2009 in Barcelona, is another momentous step in helping bridge the last mile and drive the mobile telecom success story.

Clearly, telecom is proving to be India’s knight in shining armor.

Further reading: