Huawei, Safaricom introduce low cost connection to marginalised community in Isiolo

Huawei Kenya, senior director public affairs, Adam Lane.

Huawei has partnered with Safaricom to introduce a low cost rural base station; which provides 2G and 3G networks to the Duse village in Isiolo county, Kenya.

The project, according to Huawei is about a third to a half of the cost for setting it up, compared to traditional sites. The site is solar powered with battery backup; and serve’s the entire village, which has a population of 1500-2000 people.

This was announced by Huawei Kenya, senior director public affairs, Adam Lane during a media event at the Dusit D2 Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Lane noted that the operational costs are very low due to the factor of not having to pay for power.

“The site is designed with many innovations that make it low cost, the physical tower itself is cheaper, and suitable for these markets. The backhaul (where the base station gets the internet from) is cheaper than the other means,” Mr. Lane added.

“It’s not a solution for everything, its suitable for small villages with a radius of two or three kilometers from the base station; which in many parts of rural Kenya is suitable,” he continued.

Huawei Rural Star

The base station was launched as part of Huawei Rural Star solution. Plans to roll out the solution were announced last year. The company’s goal is to bridge the digital divide in remote parts of Africa.

The Rural Star solution reduces the total cost of building and running a mobile network site by up to 70 per cent.

It is specifically designed for remote parts of the country that do not currently have mobile network coverage.

The Rural Star solution leverages cutting edge technology innovation by removing the requirement for 30 – 60 metre towers with 12 – 18 metre poles which do not require cement for installation.

It not only lowers the cost to purchase the tower and facilitates easier transport and construction of the site; but also enables the reduction of passive infrastructure cost by approximately 80 percent.

Through this solution, Operators will for the first time, get the opportunity to construct the low cost sites; and in so doing, provide connectivity and digital services to more people living in rural and remote areas; whilst governments can ensure their subsidies for rural sites go further.

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