Africa's rural data and voice needs

Africa's, rural, data, network, Linkworld, 3g, communications, GSM, GSM900, africaHow to solve the problem of rural network coverage in Africa

How to solve the problem of rural network coverage in Africa

Africa’s voice air traffic and data needs, especially 3G are increasing at a staggering pace. The demand on networks is mainly focused within densely populated areas. Operators are pressured into placing more emphasis on development and maintenance within these areas simply from a good business point of view. This is where their main revenue is being generated.

This in turn has resulted in an inadvertent neglect with regards to signal coverage towards end users in under serviced areas. Even though network radio planners design a network structured to produce the maximum coverage footprint, natural structure such as valleys, forests and buildings create multiple flaws. Open space for Base Transmission Stations (BTS) is not always available in the ideal location. Redirecting existing antennas is always preferential towards Opex and not the individual.

Areas therefore affected are mainly within the agricultural industry. Rural communities are often left to fend for themselves and to fulfill their technological needs with innovative and often controversial solutions. Some of these solutions have proven to be very effective and sustainable.


An excellent innovative solution is the pico GSM cell phone signal enhancer. The cellular repeater amplifies a poor (1bar) “unusable signal” to full strength and provides GSM 900 coverage indoors between 10 to 20 meter radius (500~1000m²). This is adequate to provide coverage throughout a home or a rural business as well as its immediate vicinity. Different antenna systems are available to manipulate the signal to enlarge the coverage footprint.

Distance of well over 40km from BTS on GSM900 are commonly achieved with 27dBm repeaters.

A GSM900 cellular pico repeater enables the mobile user to fully utilize GSM900 Voice and Data services available. A WCDMA cellular pico repeater, due to the microwave frequency it operates on, does not transmit the same distance as GSM900. But if the BTS provides 3G or HSDPA, the signal can be retransmitted to basements, offices, buildings and arias shielded by structure or obstacles preventing line of sight of the BTS.

The repeater has proven to be widely successful and very reliable in enhancing GSM 900 Cellular coverage for many satisfied Agricultural customers in Southern Africa.

In addition to the successful implementation of the cellular repeater, several case studies are also available detailing the solutions to complex and often “non existing” cellular network problems.

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