Zambia to receive Mobile Connectivity for hundreds of Off-Grid Communities
Vanu, Inc, a provider of equipment, tools and services that allow mobile network operators to profit by serving off-grid communities, announced that it has reached an agreement with MTN Zambia to supply equipment and services at as many as 300 mobile network sites throughout the country.
Using Vanu’s proven off-grid network systems, MTN Zambia will be able to extend mobile coverage to hundreds of previously unconnected communities at a time when connectivity is more critical than it has ever been.
BizTech Africa spoke to Andrew Beard, CEO of Vanu, Inc about the latest technology to assist in the venture and how the communities can play a part.
“VanuMaps enables us to map the existing coverage of MTN sites, identify uncovered locations and optimize the plan for new sites to cover the maximum number of people as efficiently as possible, maximizing service for previously uncovered communities.”
In order to reach the off grid communities Beard explained, “We provide community educational workshops and forums at which planners, industry representatives, and local residents can discuss — and begin to cooperatively plan for — the development of cellular networks in their area.
We also find that news of impending wireless coverage spreads rapidly through communities that are about to obtain service. Most of these communities have a substantial number of people with mobile devices despite the lack of coverage. They use their mobile devices when they leave their village.
As Grid Power availability is one of the major challenges in remote rural areas, Vanu has started implementing 100% off-grid solar power rural sites.
Also, carrying heavy conventional telecom infrastructure is a major challenge in mountain/remote rural areas. Beard added, “To overcome this challenge, we have designed a lightweight and low power consumption base station and customized site-specific required telecom infrastructure, i.e. tower/pole site varying from 9-15 meters.
The efficiency of our technology means that smaller batteries and fewer solar panels are needed. In addition to saving cost, this also reduces the transportation burden and time required to construct sites. Plus, the lower weight and wind loading enables us to use lighter, less expensive tower construction materials and techniques.”
Vanu helps close the digital divide by providing cellular mobile connectivity to remote, off-grid markets unable to seize the economic, social and cultural advantages generated by cellular coverage; advantages that have shown to be even more distinct during the current global pandemic. Built to minimize costs for power, backhaul and maintenance, Vanu’s equipment, tools and services enable mobile network operators (MNOs) and partners, such as MTN Zambia, to provide off-grid coverage profitably.