Digicel, Suriname: Breaking boundaries
Digicel launches voice and data services in the remote Amazon region of Suriname.
Partnering with Ericsson, Digicel takes on the challenge of bringing quality mobile services, including mobile internet, to every corner of the South American country of Suriname.
When Digicel launched its GSM network in December 2007, it also successfully removed a 25 year monopoly. Just one year later, Digicel is close to being the market leader in the country. Historically Digicel has played an important role in increasing mobile penetration in Central America and the Caribbean. The latest move into Suriname has brought mobile telephony to some areas for the first time and introduced mobile broadband as a first-to-market service.
The geography and limited infrastructure in the country posed a number of difficulties for the rollout, particularly in the remote interior region where a large proportion of the population lives. To overcome these challenges, Digicel approached Ericsson to provide a solution based on the main remote GSM base station RBS 2111. The solar-powered site solution is compact, sustainable and cost efficient, making it possible to bring coverage to the most remote areas. Away from the coast there are few roads in Suriname and during the installation heavy equipment had to be delivered by boat. The solar option means that maintenance visits are kept to a minimum which keeps opex low for Digicel.
However, the solar solution alone was not enough to guarantee reliable services in such a difficult environment. As part of the agreement Ericsson also delivered 100 percent of the microwave network; Marconi LH in the backbone and MINI-LINK TN in the access. Ericsson was also responsible for Network Deployment and Systems Integration, which in combination with strong network planning and dimensioning has resulted in a successful country-wide rollout. Despite difficulties and challenges the rollout was completed in record time with sites up and running and phase one completed in just four and a half months. Luiz Cabral, Account Manager and Country Manager, Ericsson elaborates: "To reach remote areas with long microwave hops of up to 80km, in a humid climate and across lakes, mountains and rainforests is an achievement in itself. This is one of the first solar-powered sites to be deployed in South America and the fact that Digicel can now provide connectivity deep in the Amazon is amazing."
For the residents of Suriname, particularly those in the remote interior areas, this project offers telecommunications services for the first time. People who have never had the luxury of making calls to their friends and relatives are now able to access internet and email and communicate with the rest of the world. For Digicel, the successful rollout presents huge opportunities for the future, as Philip van Dalsen, CEO, Digicel Suriname confirms: "We are now at a stage where we have covered approximately 99 percent of the population in Suriname. Our future plans now revolve around further development of the internet services and a possible move to 3G. There is high demand for internet services and now we have the capability to reach a whole new group of users so this is a huge business opportunity for Digicel."
Customer: Digicel Suriname
- Increase footprint in South America
- Improve the quality of communications in Suriname
- Provide services in even the most remote areas
- RBS 2111
- MINI-LINK TN
- Marconi LH
- Network Deployment
- Systems Integration
- Successful rollout in a new market
- Established reliable voice and data services
- Huge opportunity for future growth
Since its launch in 2001, Digicel has become the fastest-growing wireless telecommunications operator in the Caribbean. After eight years, Digicel is renowned for competitive rates, unbeatable coverage, superior customer care, a wide variety of products and services and state-of-the-art handsets. It is the largest GSM operator in the region.
As a core value, Digicel believes in giving back to the community with involvement in bringing communications to a number of medical and educational programs. The country of Suriname sits on the northern shoulder of South America and has a population of approximately 493 000.