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 15 Feb, 2010

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,


Connecting Remote Islands with Local Switching 14 Feb, 2010

GSM services on small remote islands off mainland coasts face significant challenges. These islands usually have a small population, no electrical grid (or an unreliable one) and low income levels. They are in urgent need of mobile communication. The key challenge that VNL is determined to solve is deploying an affordable GSM solution that can easily serve low income rural areas, such as islands.

Connecting Rural Communities

GSM is the most accepted standard, having achieved full economy of scale and will continue to be the standard for coming decades. However, the deployment of traditional GSM transmission equipment is simply too expensive and complex to provide an acceptable business case in low income, rural areas. This is the main reason that these areas lack even basic telephony and data services.

Rajiv Mehrotra Named in List of 100 Most Powerful and Influential People in the Telecoms Industry 30 Sep, 2009

Today the prestigious international telecoms magazine, Global Telecoms Business, published the GTB Power100, its list of the 100 most powerful and influential people in the telecoms industry.

Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder, Chairman and CEO of VNL, appeared in the list for the first time in 67th position.

The 2009 list is headed by Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association, followed by the CEOs of three of the world’s biggest operators — AT&T, Verizon and China Mobile. They are followed by two of the world’s top regulators, Julius Genachowski of the FCC and European Commissioner Viviane Reding.

Representatives of two other Indian companies appeared on the GTB100 – Srinath Narasimhan, CEO of Tata Communications and Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and group CEO of Bharti Enterprises.

The list was dominated by well-known companies from both the operator and vendor side; VNL was the only start-up equipment vendor to appear.

The full list can be seen at

The power and fuel challenge 26 May, 2008

We recently analysed the balance sheets of Airtel and Idea. The outcome was not surprising. One of the biggest chunks of operating costs is spelled “Power & Fuel”.

Mobile operators around the globe are faced with the problem of reducing ARPU because of fierce competition. The biggest challenge for operators is to rapidly enhance their existing infrastructure while remaining profitable.

One way to improve profitability is to reduce the costs of operations of the network. On analysis of the balance sheets of Airtel and Idea, we found that “Power and Fuel” forms the biggest chunk in the network operating costs.

Refer to the charts below for details of the distribution of network operating costs for Airtel and Idea (FY 2006 – 07).

Added to the actual cost of grid power and fuel for generators, the environmental impact of today’s mobile networks is enormous. Most of the electricity doesn’t come from renewable energy sources like wind or water.

In India alone, 2 billion litres of diesel fuel are burned annually just to power the diesel generators needed to keep Base Stations running.

To get a sense of the scale, 2 billion litres is the annual milk production in Venezuela, and the total amount of bottled water consumed in the UK every year.

Fortunately, VNL’s WorldGSM™ technology can help mobile operators lower network operating costs in rural and remote areas. In a sustainable way. Find out more »