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Airtel teams with Vanu to boost rural coverage in Rwanda

Vanu Rwanda, a subsidiary of US cellular connectivity firm Vanu Inc, has reportedly licensed spectrum from the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA) to provide solar-enabled wholesale services to local mobile network operators.

According to IT Web Africa, Airtel Rwanda will be the first operator to use the Vanu service; as per the service model, Vanu will cover the OPEX, while Airtel will get a share of the revenue.

To date, there are ten cell sites on air in Rwanda, and Vanu aims to establish a total of 376 sites, which it says will allow it to reach approximately one million people in unserved areas.

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Dr Vanu Bose

Dr Vanu Bose, President and CEO of Vanu Inc, added: ‘Although we will soon reach a million people in Rwanda, we are focused on replicating what we have done in Rwanda to reach the next three billion people globally who lack the connectivity that so many of us take for granted.’

Providing connectivity in rural areas is challenging. But Vanu, an innovator in cellular networks, has developed a technical and business model which addresses the challenges of sustainably delivering connectivity to remote areas.

Vanu has licensed spectrum from the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Organization to provide 100% solar enabled wholesale services to mobile network operators seeking to deliver services directly to hard-to-reach consumers. These innovations make it viable for Vanu Rwanda to support people who spend less than one dollar a month on mobile services.

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Marketing Director for Airtel Rwanda, Moses Abindabizemu

The first operator to use the Vanu service is Airtel Rwanda. Commenting on the development, Marketing Director for Airtel Rwanda, Moses Abindabizemu, says, “Airtel is committed to reaching rural populations. Vanu has provided us with a solution that works for us because it extends our coverage, increases our market share and generates additional revenue with no capital requirements.”

In this model, Vanu covers opex while the carrier gets a share of revenue. Bose explains that this model means that, “Vanu has taken the complexity out of what is an involved situation.

“Our collaboration with Airtel is exciting as it enables us to make communications technology available in a way that can have a transformational impact on the future of Rwanda and the country’s role in today’s information-driven global economy. The service is available to all other carriers in Rwanda who share the same commitment to reach rural areas.”

Vanu is a pioneer in software-based RAN solutions for areas that cannot be served profitably with existing technologies. Vanu has leveraged innovative new technologies that make it affordable to extend the type of mobile coverage enjoyed in developed economies.

Recognizing the unique nature of its offering, Vanu Inc has expanded to offer the design, building and operation of these networks as a service. Vanu Inc’s coverage as a service is capable of economically delivering coverage and capacity to these markets for the first time.

The provision of connectivity to under-served markets is a crucial means of driving socio-economic growth and providing access to the resources and opportunities of today’s digital economy.


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