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December 3 2009 – VNL has today been honoured by The World Economic Forum for its innovative and pioneering work in developing solar-powered mobile phone (GSM) base stations for use in rural areas where people have less than US$2 a month to spend on their phone bills.

This is the third major accolade of the year for VNL. In September it was named the third most innovative company - and the most innovative telecoms company – in the world in the Wall Street Journal’s annual Technology Innovation Awards. In November VNL was selected as a 2009 Top Pick and named as a company to watch in the wireless infrastructure market by Light Reading, a specialist telecoms analyst and publishing house.

According to The World Economic Forum, its Technology Pioneers 2010 are the 26 most innovative start-ups who will have a critical impact on the future of business and society. This year’s winners are involved in the development of life-changing technology innovation and have visionary leadership, show the signs of being a long-standing market leader – and with proven technology.

VNL is the first and only company to have found a way of building sustainable telephone networks for the three billion people (half the world’s population) who live in rural areas not covered by a mobile network. Of this number, some 1.6 billion people have no electricity and another one billion live in areas with unreliable access to power (GSMA figures).

For years, operators and GSM equipment vendors have struggled with the same problem: Traditional telecom equipment is not designed for the unique challenges posed by remote rural areas. It costs too much, is too expensive to run, uses too much power and is too difficult to deploy (especially in areas with no electricity, poor roads and a lack of trained engineers).

VNL has spent the last six years re-engineering GSM to overcome these challenges. The result is WorldGSM – the world’s first truly environmentally sustainable mobile network.

The Technology Pioneers Programme is run by the World Economic Forum with guidance from its partners, Accel, Alcatel-Lucent, BT, KPMG and Kudelski Group. The identification of the Technology Pioneer companies is the result of a vigorous selection process by 58 global technology experts including Kim Jeong, President, Bell Labs, Executive Vice-President, Alcatel-Lucent, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories, USA who says:

“As President of Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs and as a former entrepreneur and venture investor, I recognize the social and economic benefits that can arise from information and communication technology innovations. I was extremely pleased to represent Alcatel-Lucent and contribute my insights to the team of Technology Pioneer Partners serving on the Selection Advisory Committee”.

The list of Technology Pioneers 2010, which includes Twitter, can be found at

Rajiv Mehrotra, founder, CEO and Chairman of VNL said: “The work that VNL is doing will improve the lives of billions of the poorest people around the world. Of course, we are overjoyed that the World Economic Forum has recognised that VNL has developed the only sustainable way for telephone operators to build commercially viable and sustainable networks in the poorest areas of the world.”

VNL’s WorldGSM has been installed in more than 50 villages in rural Rajasthan, India’s largest state; for the first time these rural communities have network coverage. Unlike traditional GSM base stations, the village sites need no shelter, air conditioning, mains power, generator or diesel fuel. Operators throughout Africa and Latin America are also rolling out networks.


VNL’s WorldGSM overcomes the many barriers to serving rural markets. The system integrates with existing GSM macro networks and extends them into previously unreachable rural areas. It is 3GPP compliant and compatible with all standard handsets. The highlights:

• Zero opex – made possible by major reductions in power consumption; allowing for the use of solar power as the single energy source. No diesel generators are required.

• Low capex – priced at less than traditional GSM base stations -so that it’s profitable even at very low population densities and ARPU levels.

• Rural-optimised and easy to transport – compact and rugged; can even be transported on bullock carts.

• Self-deploying and near-zero maintenance –can be installed in just six hours by two unskilled people.

• Solar powered – needs only 50 – 150 W per base station compared to the 3000 W required for traditional GSM. Each site can be powered by a 2-8 m² solar panel, rather than the 200 m² panel required to power a traditional GSM base station.

WorldGSM opens up a new microtelecom business model where operators partner with local entrepreneurs to accelerate deployment and reduce costs still further.

WorldGSM also won the “best technology foresight” category at last year’s World Communications Awards and came second in the “Green Network Hardware and Infrastructure” category at the 2009 CTIA Wireless E-Tech Awards.

For more information, visit or contact VNL’s PR representative Bridget Fishleigh +44 7946 342 903, Skype: bridgetfishleigh.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Nomad Communications in the following categories: Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit