VNL’s Solar Powered End-to-End GSM Network

By • Jul 22nd, 2008
Category: Ideas, India, Infrastructure, Internet and Telecom, Internet and Telecom India, Technology

India has the fastest growing mobile subscriber base in the world and is now ranked 2nd right after China. In order to grow its mobile consumer base Indian and Chinese telecom operators have recognized there is a need to reach out to the rural areas and provide viable, sustainable and efficient telecom infrastructure before they can roll out mobile services to them. For instance, in India there has been a strong emphasis in rolling out mobile infrastructure to the rural market by operators like Airtel and there has been talk about sharing of infrastructure between the telecom operators.

While telecom operators appear to have figured out how to manufacture low-cost handsets they are still working on how to manufacture low-cost, rugged telecom infrastructure that can be deployed in the rural areas of these countries. A central challenge for expansion has been the high cost of energy bills, non-availability of engineers or trained technicians along with the high cost of transportation. VNL, an Indian-Swedish telecom company headed by Anil Raj recently introduced a new product: solar based GSM -system that appears to clearly address the needs and challenges in rolling out mobile infrastructure into rural areas. Raj helped found Hutchinson India in 1994., which underwent quite a few changes and owners before becoming part of Vodafone.

VNL’s WorldGSM™ system base stations needs about 50W and 120W of power to operate (compared to 3000 W for a typical GSM base station. The system also includes a rural-optimized MSC (Mobile Switching Center), and a compact BSC (Base Station Controller) that in essence makes it an end-to-end GSM network.

According to VNL their WorldGSM base station is entirely powered by solar energy and comes with a 72-hour power back-up that is also charged by solar. Another selling point of this rugged piece of equipment is that it can be packed into a couple of carts and can be transported over rough terrain. From the sound of it appears that the VNL has factored in other variables like ease of installment of the equipment, color coding the cables etc. This low cost of energy consumption GSM base station should be a big selling point in countries like India and China that will be struggling to find new and cheap energy sources in the next few years as their respective economies continue to grow.

The next step for VNL is to test the equipment and it will doing that with Quippo Telecom, an Indian telecom company before it can be commercially deployed. VNL maybe on to something with its new product that harnesses alternate energy. This just be the product to fuel the mobile revolution in rural areas in India and other emerging countries.

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  1. [...] July 29, 2008 VNL’s Solar Powered End-to-End GSM Network [...]

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