K-NET Lowers Cost For Mobile Operators To Serve Rural Africa
Telecom provider leverages small cell technology and iDirect’s X1 remote to reduce TCO by up 65%, bringing mobile voice and data to Ghana for first time
Herndon, Va. – VT iDirect, Inc. (iDirect), a company of VT Systems, Inc (VT Systems), today announced that K-NET, an international telecom provider, has developed a satellite backhaul network by combining iDirect’s satellite platform and Altobridge™ small cell technology to bring mobile voice and broadband connectivity for the first-time ever to rural communities in Ghana. The network, developed for mobile operator Tigo Ghana (a fully owned subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular, listed on NASDAQ OMX in Stockholm), is now live across 10 sites in Ghana and has proven to lower the total cost of ownership by up to 65% compared to a conventional backhaul solution. Plans now call for K-NET to expand to 300 additional sites with private sector funding. iDirect is a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology.
The low cost solution developed by K-NET includes satellite communications equipment from iDirect, 2G and 3G Base Station Subsystems (BSS) from Altobridge and solar power technology from Ameresco Solar. The combined solution enables mobile operators like Tigo Ghana to profitably serve rural communities with population densities of less than 1,500 people. The 10 communication towers implemented to date have experienced substantial levels of traffic and very strong growth of more than 25% since the last one was completed at the end of July 2012. Several of the towers are now carrying more than 250,000 minutes of voice traffic each month, and more than 15,000 SMS messages.
K-NET selected the iDirect Platform to backhaul its small cell deployment because iDirect technology integrates seamlessly with small cell architectures for a cost-effective and easy to deploy solution. Traditionally, mobile operators have deployed large macro cells to cover remote areas, but this is often an expensive and logistically difficult proposition and has limited expansion of rural service. Local network service is delivered through iDirect’s Evolution X1 outdoor remote, which features an IP67 enclosure, an extended temperature range and the ability to run entirely on solar power. Advanced BSS equipment from Altobridge optimizes capacity and reduces power consumption to less than 5% of a conventional implementation. This enables the use of a highly efficient solar-based power system from Ameresco Solar to be used, which offers substantially lower running costs than a conventional power system with diesel generator backup.
The network received initial funding from the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC). Cost savings of 65% has prompted K-NET to plan 300 additional sites in an effort to expand service to the 20% of Ghana’s population that is currently without mobile coverage. Local government authorities expect the service to attract investors and open up more business opportunities and enhance teaching and learning in local schools.
“Providing affordable and reliable mobile voice and data connectivity is essential to economic and social development in Africa, but reaching remote and rural communities is a challenge. Small cells provided one part of the equation, but we also needed a backhaul solution that was quick to deploy, easy to operate, and allowed us to expand cost-effectively. The iDirect Evolution Platform, and specifically the X1 remote, perfectly integrates with small cell technology and provided the ideal solution for our requirements.”
~ Richard HLORMADOR
Founder, Chairman & Chief Architect, K-NET
“Satellite technology and small cell technology have evolved to the point where they are not only a viable option for mobile operators, but a preferred solution for extending GSM and mobile Internet service into remote communities. There is tremendous opportunity in the mobile industry and we are excited to partner with Altobridge, Ameresco Solar and other experts on developing more affordable and powerful backhaul solutions.”
~ Richard DEASINGTON
Director, Market Development, iDirect
K-NET, is an international Telecom provider, Teleport Operator and system integrator headquartered in Accra, Ghana. KNET was founded in 1996 and is 100% Ghanaian owned.
KNET operates a large MPLS core backbone network with several Point of Presence (POPs) throughout Ghana, interconnected using a combination of diverse fibre and high-capacity SDH microwave links. KNETs Network Operation Centre (NOC) and Teleport is located at McCarthy Hill in Accra, which has diverse connections to multiple international POPs. KNET provides last-mile connectivity to customer locations based on one of several access technologies, including fibre, DSL, point-to-point microwave, WiMAX and VSAT. The state-of-the-art McCarthy Hill Teleport hosts two VSAT platforms, with capacity on the SES Astra 2B satellite, providing ubiquitous coverage over West and Central Africa. KNET specializes in the provision of high-reliability B2B network services for government, large corporate and small/medium enterprise clients.
KNET also provides Ghana’s main TV uplink facility from its McCarthy Hill teleport, from where it provides services for GBC-TV (the national broadcaster), and other broadcasters including TV3, MultiTV, and TV Africa.
iDirect, a subsidiary of VT Systems, is a global leader in IP-based satellite communications providing technology that enables our 350+ partners to optimize their networks, differentiate and expand their businesses. The iDirect Intelligent Platform™ allows our partners to run their entire business operations more efficiently via a single, unified IP-based satellite architecture, whether it’s providing core IP applications to the enterprise or specialized services to any number of diverse vertical markets. iDirect is the #1 name in global satellite communications in key industries including maritime, military/government, and oil and gas, with a 62% hub market share and more than a quarter million remotes installed worldwide. In 2007, iDirect Government Technologies (iGT) was formed to drive adoption of its IP-based solutions in the U.S. government market. In 2008, iDirect Asia Pte Ltd was established in Singapore to enhance its value-add and responsiveness to customers in the Asia Pacific region. For more information please visit www.idirect.net.
VT Systems is an engineering company providing integrated solutions to the commercial and government markets in the aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors. VT Systems’ innovative solutions, products and services include aircraft maintenance, repair and modification; software solutions in training and simulation; satellite-based IP communications technology; network solutions that integrate data, voice and video; rugged computers and computer peripheral equipment; specialized truck bodies and trailers; weapons and munitions systems; road construction equipment; and ship design and shipbuilding. Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., VT Systems operates globally and is a wholly owned subsidiary of ST Engineering. Please visit www.vt-systems.com.
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