The densely populated urban centres in Africa have, for more than a decade, had good access to telecommunications and global internet services. Yet, millions of rural communities still have unreliable or no access to such essential telecommunications…
Operators often over claim their rural coverage. Even though most operators with government licenses are legally bound to extend
their provision to off-the-grid regions there
are numerous reasons this current situation
The original business model, with the licensed
operator owning every aspect of the network
and distribution is changing.
Each rural GSM site requires detailed
analysis and planning to establish the
economic viability of any given
ARPU (Average Revenue per User) is traditionally lower than in urban areas – rural user $ spend per month is unknown.
The provision of ‘voice connectivity’ and supporting messaging and broadband services is essential to improve the quality of life of the residents living in rural communities. Although market data is unreliable, estimates for the demand of telecommunication services demonstrate the huge untapped market potential of rural African.
To provide coverage to these rural areas offers a licensed operator a competitive market advantage, delivering increased sales revenues and profitability, together with enhanced brand repute, as strong social links exist between urban and rural communities.
The trend today has shifted towards greater use of outsourcing, working in collaboration with other participants who are prepared to invest in establishing the rural network on a full OPEX basis and be remunerated through either joint ownership of the installation or a sharing of sales revenue or profits based on a predetermined leasing agreement.
For an operator to feel confident in adopting this new outsourced approach they require one organisation to accept responsibility for the coordination and management of the multitude of contractors required to bring a new rural site onto their system infrastructure.
It is important not to underestimate the complexities involved in delivering sustainable telecommunications to off-the-grid areas. There is a need to create a sustainable ecosystem to support the deployment of GSM site. RascomStar is highly experienced in establishing and managing such outsourced operations.
The critical start point for anyone wishing
to establish a rural telecommunications network in
their area is having investors who are prepared to
provide secure financial funding based on a site’s
ability to generate the necessary sales volumes and
financial returns that justifies the risk.
The ecosystem required varies from one project to
another, from one country to another, collaborating with
various reputable GSM licensed operators, who have an
established core network in the region, but without secure
finance an installation becomes a non-starter.
RascomStar, together with our technology partner Viasat, is the consistent link in the ecosystem providing the proven GSM technology and satellite backhauling infrastructure, working in collaboration with appointed infrastructure providers, for the manufacture, supply and installation of towers, solar panels and battery charging facilities and local service companies assume responsibility for the distribution, deployment and maintenance of equipment on-site.
The final, yet equally important element in creating the ecosystem is the willing participation of local community leaders, in providing land with planning permission to site the installation.
The nature of the contractual relationship between each participant can vary from one installation to another. The outsourcing agreement between parties can also vary, to include leasing arrangements, revenue or profit sharing or inter-connection agreements, sometimes a combination of each depending on the amount of investment and shared risk.
RascomStar is highly experienced in building this type of ecosystem and establishing the necessary collaborative working procedures, to facilitate the deployment of each installation – the sourcing, management and delivery of a full end-to-end service suitable for rural communities that can be delivered at an affordably price.