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:
Top of the VNL Rural site at Chamgang peeps out from the thick foliage of trees.
Bhutan’s first private mobile company Tashi InfoComm Limited (TICL) – popularly known as TashiCell – has selected VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution to connect remote communities in the Himalayan Kingdom. After successful trials in Chamgang in 2012, VNL deployed WorldGSM™ equipment in Tshangkha, Thrimshingla and Gayzore.
Two views of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural BTS site for Tashicell at Chamgang. Originally deployed as part of the ITU-VNL partnership project for the ITU “Connect a School, Connect a Community” program, the site is now integrated into the TashiCell Bhutan network.
“This is a smart initiative which sets a milestone in driving energy efficient affordable ICT access to rural and remote areas and benefits to communities where they live,” said Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau . “Such an innovative public-private-peoples’ partnership, which promotes mobile,GPRS and broadband access to rural and remote communities, represents an attractive, affordable, inclusive, scalable and sustainable step forward in providing digital opportunities for the people of Bhutan.”
Sweeping view of the valley from the base of the Chamgang site overlooking Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.
The project is a result of the partnership between the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL), announced at the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference in March 2010. The goal is to make WorldGSM™ solar powered solutions available to village schools and communities, as part of the ITU Connect a School, Connect a Community programme. A Cooperation Agreement between ITU & VNL was signed in December 2010 and a solar power based mobile transmitter was installed in Chamgang, Bhutan, in collaboration with Ministry of Information & Communications and TashiCell.
View from the top of the VNL Rural site-VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution emphasizes the role of compact modular design and small footprint, making it ideal for deployment in any tough terrain. This site is on a mountain slope with thick vegetation where there is hardly any place for the elaborate structures that are typical of traditional GSM solutions.
With a subscriber base of 115,000 and growing, TashiCell is present in all 20 Dzongkhags (administrative and judicial disctricts) of Bhutan, and is expanding operations to cover subscribers in more remote locations. VNL’s WorldGSM™ is a key part of their rollout strategy.
All sites are on mountain slopes usually accessible by a dirt track. That’s where VNL’s compact and lightweight modular equipment comes in handy- conveniently packed into boxes that allow easy handling in tough terrain conditions. Extremes of weather- rain, wind and snow-are another challenge that VNL has overcome in Bhutan. Temperatures at some locations can dip as low as -14 degrees Celsius.
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
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.
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
VNL has been named as the winner of the best green infrastructure provider category at Telecom Asia’s 3rd Readers’ Choice Awards.
Twenty-one equipment and software suppliers received twenty-seven awards, which were presented on December 9th, 2010 at a ceremony in Hong Kong. Executives from AT&T, BT, C&W Worldwide, China Telecom, China Unicom, CSL, Global Crossings, Hong Kong Broadband Network, Hutchison Telecom, NTT Com Asia, Orange Business Services, SmartTone-Vodafone, Telecom Malaysia, Telstra International and Verizon Business were on hand to celebrate with the winners.
Read more by clicking here: http://www.telecomasia.net/content/ta-reader-choice-awards-2010-winner-list
The continent’s biggest telecom conference and expo attracted even more exhibitors and visitors than last year. The show received a staggering 75% increase in attendance. Firmly established as Africa’s leading telecoms event, AfricaCom gathered more than 4,000 attendees from across the African continent and beyond for two days of contact building, learning and buying.
The speaker line-up represented a “Who’s Who” of those at the top of some of Africa’s most successful and important telecoms companies. A record 100 speakers presented across the two days including Suraj Chaudhry, Head of Business Development for VNL on “Using Solar Power to Deploy Rural Networks in Low Economy Areas” and Mats Nilson, VP of Shyam Networks, who presented “Strategies for Handling the Drastic Increase in Data Transmission Demand.”
VNL’s booth at #B01 was one of the largest and most visible from anywhere on the floor. Taking up 90 sqm, it showcased an actual Village Site deployment configuration.
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 Africa is poised to be the continent that will deploy and be the testing ground for a number of new green powered technologies in the near future. (Frankly, we’re happy to see all green powered programs move forward, eliminating the case for diesel powered systems in rural areas - period.)
One of the questions we get all the time from visitors at our booth is how individuals will be able to charge their phones in areas with no electricity. At our booth, we showcased a number of solutions from Suntrica out of Finland and IdeaForge from India that use solar, hand cranks and connections to bicycle wheels to create electricity to power mobile phones. We also saw a solar mobile phone or two at other booths.
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. 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 in Africa.
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