Fifteen isolated rural villages in French Guiana now have mobile phone coverage thanks to a project implemented by communications services provider Digicel, satellite Internet service provider Caribsat and small cell provider ip.access.
The Canopé project was awarded under a public tender to Digicel and Caribsat in August by the regional government of French Guiana. The partners have deployed 2G and 3G small cell equipment provided by ip.access to 15 newly created radio sites.
A dedicated mast was installed on each site by Eiffage, supporting mobile network and VSAT antennas. ip.access small cells in each village relay signals from Digicel subscribers’ mobile phones to an ip.access small cell gateway hosted and operated by Digicel, over satellite links installed by Caribsat and operated by Eutelsat. All sites entered commercial service in October, and the project was completed in record time.
“We selected the combined Caribsat and ip.access solution following a successful on-site proof of concept in February,” declared Franck Rogier, general manager of Digicel French Guiana.
“This showed that we could install a small site with 2km coverage in less than a day, and operate it very cost-effectively. We are excited that this solution brings affordable Digicel mobile phone service to thousands of villagers in French Guiana, making their lives easier and safer.”
David Veldwachter, CEO of Caribsat French Guiana, said: “Caribsat’s satellite service was already well known in French Guiana and French West Indies, because it provides high bandwidth Internet access at a very affordable cost to enterprises and families anywhere.
“We have shown that it can also be combined with ip.access small cell products to enable new business models for mobile network operators, and to provide much needed mobile services to remote locations that were previously impossible to reach cost-effectively.”
Malcolm Gordon, CEO of ip.access added: “We have thoroughly enjoyed working together with innovative and dedicated partners such as Digicel and Caribsat, on a project with such a valuable social impact. Our small cell solutions were designed from the start to support satellite links as one possible backhaul option, and can be deployed very quickly and effectively. This makes them the perfect match for rural coverage applications such as the Canopé project.”