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World Telecom Labs Wins Capacity Africa Wholesale Award For Its Rural Telephony System

28 September 2016 – At yesterday’s inaugural Capacity Africa awards World Telecom Labs (WTL) picked up another accolade for its Vivada (Village Voice and Data) system.

Capacity Africa awards celebrate excellence and innovation within wholesale telecoms across the African continent. The awards are independently judged by a panel of telecoms analysts, industry experts and the senior editorial team of Capacity magazine with submissions graded with analysis and rigor

WTL won in the Best Technology Deployment category for the development of a rural telephony system suitable for wholesale operators.

Earlier this year WTL was named Telecom Innovation Company of the Year at the annual Nigerian Telecom Awards for Vivada and was the winner of the Connecting West Africa category at the prestigious West AfricaCom Awards in recognition of its work in Nigeria.

Connected the unconnected continues to be a fashionable industry term with Facebook and Google in particular grabbing headlines in recent years.

However, the challenges in building and maintaining networks in rural areas are well-documented and haven’t changed much over the years: low ARPUs, remote communities, lack of trained engineers, equipment developed for rich western markets, long ROIs etc

Wholesale carriers are now actively looking for ways to extend their services into these remote areas.  They know that there is a market for rural wholesale networks;  Operators are being pressured by regulators to extend their networks into poorer areas but are understandably reluctant to expand into areas where profits will always be small.

In addition, infrastructure sharing is now acceptable and widespread across the telecoms ecosystem.  In fact, some regulators in Africa are now insisting that networks are open in rural areas as they want to encourage competition so that villagers can choose their network with pricing and customer service being the key differentiators.

Of course, there are many companies providing solar powered BTS, diesel gensets, VSAT etc and all the components necessary to build a single operator network.  However, there are few that can provide a complete system and only one which has developed a system which is suitable for wholesale carriers – World Telecom Labs (WTL).

The Vivada Wholesale package includes a micro GSM base station, wifi routers, backhaul integration, billing and provisioning software, VoIP compression switches and SMS servers. The entire system runs on less than 200W which can be supplied by solar with battery back-up.

Vivada recognises that multiple revenue streams will ensure a sustainable business model. It can deliver services to all types of pre and post-paid customers with varying telecoms budgets including GSM for every type of handset, wifi connectivity for smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs – and connectivity to cybercafés and hotspot call cabins.

WTL has invested significantly in developing new and innovative components for its Vivada system to make it suitable for the wholesale market. In particular, it has:

  • Created a system which interoperates with MNOs to allow them to continue running their existing OSS/BSS but enables them extend these to shared-infrastructure locations.
  • Developed a wholesale billing system to enable wholesale carriers to track rural traffic onto its operator customers networks.
  • Modified its patented voice optimisation technology on the backhaul which will enable wholesale operators to reduce the required bandwidth and hence the cost – an essential particularly if satellite transmission is being used.

Leigh Smith, MD of WTL, said “ There are millions of people in Africa who are still not served by any kind of voice and data network. Vivada Wholesale is plugging a huge hole in enabling wholesale carriers to built commercially sustainable rural network which can be utilised by multiple operators. “

In June WTL unveiled the findings of its survey about the management and rollout of voice and/or data deployments in Africa that have been financed by Universal Service Funds (USF). People from across the telecoms ecosystem including vendors, operators and ISPs, NGOs and Government Officials were invited to share their experience and opinions about USF and to identify where improvements could be made in the management of USF.

Results of the survey can be found at http://wtl.be/blog/wtls-research-uncovers-growing-demand-for-rural-data-coverage/

About World Telecom Labs (WTL)

Headquartered in Belgium with offices in Nigeria, Brazil and the UK, WTL helps operators in emerging markets to deploy cost-effective, reliable voice and data networks for both rural and urban environments.

WTL has deployments in more than 30 countries in Africa with a well-deserved reputation for excellent service, reliable products and an expert team with extensive experience in Africa.

WTL’s innovative, practical and cost-effective portfolio includes its:

  • Award-winning range of high capacity VoIP and hybrid VoIP/TDM switches which have been specifically designed to replace the huge, expensive, maintenance-heavy switches that have traditionally been used to transfer VoIP traffic onto other networks.
  • Vivada (Village Voice and Data), specifically developed so that wholesale carriers and operators large and small can build low OPEX, low-CAPEX networks for all types of pre and post-paid customers with varying telecoms budgets including GSM for every type of handset; Wifi connectivity for smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs – and connectivity to cybercafés and hotspot call cabins.
  • Signalling gateways and pre-paid applications for emerging carriers and telecom service operators.

For more information visit www.wtl.be, on twitter @worldtelecomlab or contact WTL’s PR rep on +44 7946 342 903, skype: bridgetfishleigh or bridget@telecomsprafrica.com