In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan the breathtaking beauty of its mountains is also its biggest challenge when it comes to creating infrastructure for telecom. Bhutan Telecom Limited (BTL) is the leading provider of telecommunications and internet services in Bhutan. Besides fixed line telephony, BTL provides GSM mobile services under the flagship brand B-Mobile.
VNL partnered B-Mobile to bring GSM connectivity to a cluster of villages around 60 kms from the capital Thimpu, using WorldGSM™ - a sustainable GSM and broadband solution.
Solar powered VNL WorldGSM™ BTS Site in Bhutan with 7 day autonomy - Ideal for cloudy weather conditions.
There are several locations in Bhutan with difficult terrain and hardly any road access where deployment of a traditional GSM network is a challenge. There is no room for the large footprint and civil works of a traditional mobile tower and RF planning is extremely difficult in the mountains and valleys.
In one such location, 60 kms south of the capital Thimpu, is a cluster of six sparsely populated villages- Jangsyena, Gurgaon, Lobnekha, Phudun, Rashigang and Tsephu.
A Slippery Track: Last 100 mts to the WorldGSM™ VBTS Site in Lobnekha (background)
WorldGSM™ VBTS Site Deployed in Rashigang
BTL chose VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution for this cluster. The simple, cost effective and highly energy efficient solution was installed rapidly using local manpower resources. The network connects B-Mobile subscribers in the village and on the roads that lead to the main city.
|Location||VNL Site Configuration|
|Chapcha (BT Site)||E1/Ethernet Convertor +TDN|
|Pepchu (BT Site)||E1/Ethernet Convertor +TDN|
|Chunzom (BT Site)||E1/Ethernet Convertor +TDN|
|Table 1. VNL WorldGSM™ Site Configurations|
Table 1 (Right) shows the site configurations that VNL deployed for BTL. Based on VNL’s Cascading Star Architecture, the deployments are a mix of VNL WorldGSM™ Rural Sites for coverage, WorldGSM™ Village Sites for capacity in the village and Repeater sites from Shyam to overcome terrain challenges.
The entire network was up in record time because of the ease of transport of material even where the last stretch was along slippery dirt tracks and involved a steep climb.Some of the deployments were in places that were created by clearing out a tiny space on a mountain edge – barely enough to accommodate even the small footprint of a VNL WorldGSM™ Rural or Village Site.
VNL WorldGSM™ Sites (RBTS and VBTS) Shown on Google Maps View
It’s impossible to stand and photograph the site up close from most angles.VNL deployed each site in a matter of days using unskilled local manpower who followed simple instructions and required very little supervision.
There were no requirements of skilled technical resources travelling to remote sites and then camping in the village for a lengthy period – something that’s hard to avoid in the case of traditional deployments.
The network has completed over 2 years of successful operation.
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.
Breathtaking panorama of Maca Maca from the base of VNL WorldGSM™ Rural BTS site for Entel -300 meters above the settlements in the picture. Notice the winding road that leads to the site (right hand bottom corner).
Rollouts are underway for deploying 86 GSM sites for Entel S.A.,Bolivia’s state-run telecom operator under the Cobertura Movil Rural (Rural Mobile Coverage - CMR) project. VNL’s solar powered WorldGSM™ telecommunications infrastructure solution will help Entel deliver sustainable mobile services to people in rural and remote locations across several provinces in Bolivia.
The VNL WorldGSM™ RBTS site overlooks Maca Maca
Entel’s multi-million dollar investment in VNL’s sustainable rural telecommunications solutions reflects Bolivia’s commitment to economic and social development of its people through telecommunications. Located at the highest altitudes of South America, Bolivia is a land locked country, rich in natural resources. However penetration of mobile and internet services is a concern with huge gaps in coverage in sub-urban areas, rural areas and mining and production centers that are vital for the economy.
A picturesque municipality – Maca Maca,Bolivia
As Entel embarks on a nationwide expansion program, integration of unconnected rural areas into the development mainstream and empowerment of disadvantaged sections of society is top priority .It’s efforts to expand its footprint are guided by the Political Constitution of the State which recognizes telecommunications as a basic right and emphasizes access and universal service obligations.
VNL’s Bolivia journey began in 2011 with successful trials for the Bolivian Government in two remote locations, Rio Seco and Yatarenda, falling under the city of Santa Cruz.
Base of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural Site with solar panels and battery bank in view
One of the VNL WorldGSM™ Rural Sites deployed for Entel is located in the mountains overlooking the picturesque Municipality of Maca Maca, in Loayza Province Of La Paz Department, Bolivia. The site can only be accessed by a tough, winding road that climbs to the base of the tower perched on a slope 300 meters above the community (see pictures). The site brings Entel’s GSM network within reach of the 200 inhabitants of Maca Maca and 50 inhabitants in the small village of Caracato close by.
Maca Maca has just 200 inhabitants. The Entel site deployed by VNL is located in the mountains in the background
People in Maca Maca now have a choice after having shared a single phone booth that worked on the old DECT technology, all these years. Residents of Caracato are even more delighted because the village has never had any telecom service till now. Entel’s GSM network is a first for them, and a big step to empowerment in their daily lives.
VNL WorldGSM™ RBTS
Watch this space for more on Entel Bolivia deployments in the coming weeks.
More than 56,000 industry visitors, conference speakers and delegates, exhibiting staff and media from around the world attended CommunicAsia 2011 between 21 – 24 June. Occupying three levels of the Marina Bay Sands Exhibition Centre in Singapore, CommunicAsia featured a myriad of key and emerging technologies from backhaul networks and systems integration to software and applications.
VNL’s booth at #1H2-01 was one of the largest and most visible on Level One. Taking up 180 sqm, VNL’s booth showcased an actual Village Site deployment configuration in the VNL booth. New to Asia was the introduction of broadband as part of the WorldGSM™ solution available now for rural areas running exclusively on solar power.
Visitors were also able to see a live commercial deployment in Bhutan illustrating VNL’s optional seven-day backup configuration that stores even more energy for powering the system in foggy and cloudy conditions.
Also at the booth, visitors enjoyed learning more about our deployments in villages in Rajasthan, India.
VNL was very pleased to have ministers from many countries visit our booth to discuss their challenges with deploying projects in rural areas in their countries. N.K. Mohapatra, Head of Sales for the APAC Region, presented to members of the Telecom Ministry of Vietnam.
Also visiting our booth were members of the Telecom Ministry in Qatar.
Over the four days, more than 250 industry luminaries addressed pertinent issues and challenges affecting the ICT industry. These knowledge-sharing opportunities provided conference attendees with invaluable opportunities to network with industry experts and thought leaders from across Asia and the rest of the world. Rajiv Mehrotra, VNL’s Founder, Chairman & CEO, was very busy presenting. On Day Two of the show, he presented the program, “Strategies for Handling the Drastic Increases in Data Transmission Demand”. This program reviewed the growth of data demand and forecasts, and showcased many of the strategies currently being deployed to address the issue. He presented the pros and cons of different technologies, network architectures, and deployment strategies.
During Day Three, Mr. Mehrotra also presented, “The Real Winner – GSM + Wi-Fi” which discussed their ubiquitous nature and how the future will look based on these two technologies. Part of the presentation was centered on how Wi-Fi is built-in to nearly 100% of devices, and that for the majority of users, this will be more than adequate for future growth. He also showcased a solar powered internet kiosk in use in schools in Rajasthan, India, that connected children to the global village. He stated that, even now in the villages, he has seen dramatic use of both voice and data:“The villagers cannot read and write. They can only speak to communicate. Instead of walking ten kilometers, they can now make a simple phone call. This is quite a valuable thing to some rural areas where people must focus on basic daily living activities like gathering water and firewood, farming and herding.”
When asked about data usage and whether anyone in rural areas would ever feel the need for data, Rajiv responded:“We were initially surprised at the volumes of data consumed. Children are downloading infotainment, finding information for their parents. It’s making families closer. Parents become dependent on their children to access the world.”
Following that, he participated in a panel discussion on “Real World Deployments”, along with other equipment manufacturers and operators, discussing the perils and pitfalls of different deployment strategies, what worked, what didn’t and how to plan better, more efficient and robust networks across Asia.
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
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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 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
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