Range Networks and University Research Group Bring Cellular Access to Zambian Village

Cellular Connectivity Deployed to Rural African Community

Jul 16, 2013, 08:00 ET from Range Networks

SAN FRANCISCO, July 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Range Networks, the leading U.S. provider of commercial open-source cellular systems, today announced the successful deployment of an experimental cellular network in Southern Zambia.  The Mobility Management and Networking Laboratory (Moment Lab) at UC Santa Barbara chose Range Networks Snap Network and OpenBTS software to provide voice and SMS service in the sprawling village of Macha. The team used the deployment to study rural cellular networks and serve as a proof-of-concept project for future deployments in Zambia and other remote regions.

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  • Free open-source network: The average income of the community is around $1 per day.  The network was set-up as a free service, using open source software, to study the feasibility of low-cost systems to potentially cover billions of people around the world without cellular access.
  • Quick setup to serve areas with scarce coverage: While commercial cellular providers covered parts of the village, large areas of the village and surrounding region had no communications infrastructure. No traditional provider would offer service to the entire area given its low population density and income levels.  The Range Networks Snap Network and OpenBTS software were leveraged to setup two strategic sites capable of covering an area of 35 km2 in just two days.
  • Voice and SMS service: The deployment provided the remote village with the capability of making and receiving local calls and sending and receiving local SMS text messages. Additionally, the network allowed for outgoing global calls and outgoing global SMS text messages on a trial basis.
  • Reduced complexity: The network uses free open-source software and generic wireless IP backbone, and operates as a self-contained local loop replacing the need for expensive cellular-grade interconnections, hardware and software. The low-power consumption incurred by the SNAP base stations further reduces the cost associated with power and maintenance. Additionally, the network operates remotely and is maintained by local resources, reducing downtime.
  • Ultra low-power consumption: The Snap Network draws less than 35 W of power, less than a typical laptop computer.


Mariya Zheleva, PhD student, UC Santa Barbara, said: "Networks such as this one can be used to improve healthcare, education and support of local businesses. Through its OpenBTS software and its low-cost equipment, Range Networks provided us with the resources we needed to bring communication to this remote region. Service for low-income, low-population density areas, such as this Zambian village, is now a possibility."

David Burgess, CEO, Range Networks, co-inventor of the OpenBTS Project, said: "In partnering with universities like UC Santa Barbara we have enabled communication in remote communities around the globe, bringing affordable cellular service to those disconnected from each other and the rest of the world."  


OpenBTS Project - http://openbts.org

UC Santa Barbara research paper - http://cs.ucsb.edu/~mariya/docs/mobisys254-zheleva.pdf

Moment Lab, UCSB - http://moment.cs.ucsb.edu/

About Range Networks
Range Networks is the future of cellular networks. Founded by the inventors of OpenBTS, the Company provides the only commercial open source cellular system. Range Networks' products are made in the U.S.A., and are simple to deploy and manage at a fraction of the cost of alternative solutions. Based on open standards, Range Networks provides connectivity to existing 2G/3G and 4G networks to rural communities, remote outposts and emergency crews. Additional information is available at: www.rangenetworks.com.

SOURCE Range Networks