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This study highlights our partnership with
University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)
to deliver cellular service to a community in
rural Zambia. While commercial cellular
providers cover parts of the village, large areas
of the village and other surrounding villages
have no communications. Given its low
population density and income levels, no
traditional telecom would provide service to
the entire area. The UCSB team established a
two site network with a coverage area of
about 35 km2 in just two days.
Service for low income, low population
areas is now a possibility.
Mariya Zheleva, UC Santa Barbara, PhD Student
This rural village is situated among savanna
woodlands in southern Zambia, 350km away from the
capital Lusaka. Spread over about 3800 km 2, the
population density is low and the average income is
about $1 per day. While the village is home to
approximately 135,000 people, large sections of the
village and surrounding area have no cellular service.
The UCSB team deployed a two cell network in just
two days using Range Networks 1 W RapidCell unit.
The RapidCell is a pole-mountable, outdoor
system designed for rapid deployment. The two sites
were located on a water tower and on a pre-existing
mast at a local school. Coverage was available up to
3 km from each site with total coverage area of about
35 km2. WiFi provided connectivity between the two
sites and VSAT provided connectivity for global calls.
© Range Networks 2013
Southern Zambia, often described as the “real Africa”, is home to
tropical savanna woodlands and low population densities.
Overall, the system has very low deployment and operating costs. It operates as a self-contained wireless local
loop, replacing the need for traditional core network infrastructure and associated costs for equipment, power and
maintenance. Because the network does not perform roaming, no SS7 support is required.
The network runs on free and open source software including OpenBTS, Sipauthserve, Smqueue and FreeSwitch.
The registry and other applications are hosted at the water tower site.
Because local resources maintain the network and each site draws no more than 35 W of power, the service has
lower operating costs.
The network deployment was successful and is being used as a proof of concept for future deployments in Zambia
and other remote regions.
Technology - Each Site
Services of the Network
Range Networks RapidCell unit
Local Calls, Outgoing Global Calls (OpenBTS voice)
1800MHz 1W System
Local SMS, Outgoing Global SMS (OpenBTS SMS)
1 x ARFCN
Power Consumption <35W
Up to 3km service radius (from each site)
1800MHz Omni & 90o Sector Antenna
38m Mast Height (site one, water tower)
12m Mast Height (site two, school)
communications to those disconnected from each
other and the rest of the world. Zambia highlights the
ease and speed that such networks can be deployed.
© Range Networks 2013
By partnering with universities like UC Santa Barbara
and UC Berkeley, Range Networks has enabled
communications in some of the most remote and
Two sites provide voice and SMS service in the village.