Indian company to launch Nigerian solar-powered mobile network
- Parent Category: Mobile
- Published on 03 July 2012
An Indian technology company plans to revolutionise the telecommunications sector in Nigeria with the introduction of that country’s first solar powered network called ‘WorldGSM’.
The technology is set to be supplied by a division of India’s Shyam Group called VNL, which specialises in developing low-cost solar-powered GSM and broadband systems.
Nigeria has the biggest mobile market in Africa, with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) saying that the country had 82 million SIM card connections in 2011.
But the nation still has a comparatively low mobile penetration rate of about 52%, as the World Bank says the country’s population stands at almost 158 million people.
The Shyam group, therefore, says that WorldGSM could help connect more Nigerians in far-flung areas, in a move that might help boost the West African nation’s mobile penetration rate.
“WorldGSM is a completely solar powered broadband network solution for rural and remote locations," said Shyam Group chairman, Rajiv Mehrotra.
He said network's agenda is to cater for rural consumers who have an Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of $3 or less.
And in a country that is renowned for its electricity shortages and heavy reliance on diesel generators to power its mobile towers, Mehtrotra says that it is time operators considered more sustainable solutions to their network problems.
This year the NCC fined MTN, Etisalat, Globacom and Airtel a combined total of $7.38 million for poor quality service, such as dropped calls and a lack of network coverage.
Operators such as MTN blamed the country’s poor power supplies, among other reasons such as sabotage, for its lack of ability to meet the NCC’s quality of service requirements.
"Power was clearly not an issue when GSM was conceived,” says Mehtrotra.
“A conventional base station site alone requires about 3,000 to 5,000 watts to run — not including any Base Station Controller (BSC) or Mobile Switching Center (MSC),” he added.
He went on to say that because of the lack of power availability and high costs associated with mobile towers, millions of people are also left without mobile networks at all - a situation he says must change.
“The general purpose network of GSM is entirely unsuited to the unique challenges of serving rural and remote communities.
"As operators continue to expand their networks into these areas, these challenges can escalate to a point where any further expansion is no longer viable. As a result, vast portions of the developing world are denied telecommunication access.
The push for solar powered mobile towers in Nigeria has gained momentum in 2012.
Earlier this year, mobile tower operating company IHS said it had it has converted 90% of its 900 mobile towers in Nigeria to use solar power.
The towers that had been converted to use energy from the sun are owned by IHS, but the company also manages the leasing of 4000 towers owned by telecoms companies on the continent.