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.
Another long journey for VNL - over 8000 kilometers east of India – took us to the middle of the western Pacific Ocean to the Federated States of Micronesia where local operator FSMTC (Federated States of Micronesia Telecommunications Corporation) has selected VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution for GSM connectivity at locations on the islands of Pohnpei and Yap.
The island nation of The Federated States of Micronesia consists of four states Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together they comprise around 607 islands with a combined area of 702sq.km. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and the Marianas, west of Nauru and the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 2,900 km north of eastern Australia and some 4,000 km southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.
The Federated States of Micronesia Telecommunications Corporation (FSMTC) Headquarters in Pohnpei. The sole telecom operator in Micronesia (population 1,40,000) , FSMTC has 20,000 mobile subscribers.
Scenes from Pohnpei (population 35,000).
FSMTC COO Fredy S. Perman ( 4th from left in white shirt) and Technical Head Joseph Johnny – Manager Plant and Engg.(second row in gray T shirt) and other members of the FSMTC team with VNL’s Vikas Tyagi (centre in yellow t-shirt)
A view of the sea close to the Joe Site, in the south east part of Pohnpei.
Dirt track on the approach to Joe Site.
Joe Site, Pohnpei – VNL’s first ever installation in Micronesia. The 2 TRX VNL WorldGSMTM Rural BTS with 2 omni antennas sits atop a 55 meter high tower. FSMTC has 48 BTS sites across 4 islands.
Joe Site,Pohnpei : VNL WorldGSM TMbattery bank and CCU at the base of the site. It rains 4 days a week in Pohnpei so a tin sheet cover is a must.
View of the FSMTC NOC in Pohnpei.
VNL BSC in Pohnpei
Mission accomplished: Vikas Tyagi of VNL enjoys the local flavor of Unicorn fish after the Joe Site and South East Remote site go live.
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.
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 :
Way back in 2004, VNL began its journey to develop WorldGSM™ – a completely solar powered GSM and broadband network solution for rural and remote locations. Top of the agenda: cut down power consumption and remove diesel from the equation – otherwise network viability and profitability would never be possible. In the past 7 years we’ve watched as green power has moved from the domain of CSR initiative to the centre of the OPEX debate.
How bad is the diesel problem? Let’s start with India: According to E&Y and FICCI * “Currently, telecom towers consume an average of about 5-6 kilo watt of energy coupled with an average of 8 hours of diesel generator running time due to power outages. On average, 27 million units of electricity are consumed per day. Average diesel consumption per site per hour is about 2.5 liters, translating to 6 million liters of diesel per day. This translates to consumption of more than 2 billion liters of diesel per year for cell sites, which is subsidized by GoI.”
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India estimates the diesel challenge as follows: “India has presently around 400,000 telecom towers, with average power consumption per tower being 3 to 4 kW. Assuming 8 hours of operation by DG sets, an average fuel consumption of 8760 liters of diesel every year per tower, total carbon emission on account of diesel use by telecom towers is estimated to be around 10mt of CO2, while the emissions on account of power drawn from the grid by towers is estimated to be around 6mt of CO2.”
Africa has a similar story to tell.
In a recent article in extensia on Telcos in Nigeria eying alternative power to run the network the figures are staggering: between MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, there are 20,000 base stations that consume a total of 49.5 million liters of diesel to power the sites every month, at a total cost of N8.4 billion. All this, for Nigeria alone.
The rising costs of energy bills can actually force some CEO’s to comment that a way to address this is to hike call rates. See this interesting article from Balancing Act here.
VNL is clear. The long term solution lies in reducing the power consumption to a level that a renewable solution is justifiable on all counts: Capex, Opex, and Payback. VNL has been at the forefront of the “diesel free network” revolution. In Africa VNL deployments of it’s WorldGSM™ solar powered voice and data network solution in rural locations have saved $2000 per site per month by removing diesel from the equation. Compared to a traditional site in a rural area a 222 configuration VNL Rural site can give up to $30,000 in savings each year– considering that outages run as high as 16 hours a day in many cases.
Going green is Green is good for business. WorldGSM™ is showing the way!!
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
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