Saturday, July 4, 2015

Vodacom Deploys Base station in Shipping Container is SA

Vodacom is testing the use of shipping containers to provide an all-in-one solution for base stations deployed in townships in South Africa.

The carrier said its standard mobile base station typically has a site footprint of 30 square metres or more, including mast, which is usually 15-25 metres tall. In addition, each base station site has an equipment storage building to house radio and power equipment. The cost of each installation varies, but can be in the region of R1.5 million (circa £82,000).

Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport said, “We’re seeing data volumes in Gauteng’s townships almost doubling year on year, which is well-ahead of the average growth rate countrywide. Identifying and building new sites to cater for this in densely populated areas has been difficult, and on top of that site security can be an issue.

“Our engineers went back to the drawing board and developed an entirely different approach. They repackaged the base station equipment inside a compact steel structure that is then bolted to the roof of existing shipping container shops. This means that new sites can be rolled out quite literally within weeks as opposed to the typical 12-18 month lead time to build new base stations.”

In addition to having a smaller footprint of nine square meters and being able to utilise existing infrastructure, these new base stations are more energy efficient and cost less than half the amount needed to build a traditional site (around R700,000/£38,000).

Vodacom plans to roll out five sites as an initial test, the first of which to go live is in the Alexandra township. These test sites provide mobile coverage over a radius of up to 1.5km and can service 5,000 subscribers at peak times.