News release

Date: 6th November 2015

Digicel, Caribsat and ip.access provide mobile coverage to isolated rural villages in French Guiana using small cells and satellite backhaul

Digicel, Caribsat and ip.access announce the successful completion of the Canopé project to provide mobile phone coverage to 15 isolated rural villages in French Guiana.

Cayenne (French Guiana) and Cambridge (United Kingdom), 6th November 2015 – Digicel, Caribsat and ip.access announce the successful completion of the Canopé project to provide mobile phone coverage to 15 isolated rural villages in French Guiana.

Following the award of 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 2 km 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”.

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”, said David Veldwachter, CEO of Caribsat French Guiana. “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.

About ip.access:
Headquartered in the United Kingdom, ip.access has been creating and deploying small cell solutions for more than ten years. The company has products and solutions live in over 100 customers’ networks around the world, with the capability to accelerate the introduction of additional small cell solutions into those networks irrespective of use case, technology or deployment model.

The company's success is built upon its ability to provide its Service Provider customers with a range of small cell coverage, capacity and presence solutions across all technologies (2G, 3G, and 4G), with a focus on a rapid return on investment and the ability to open up new markets and revenue streams.

The company has an end-to-end deployment philosophy that integrates the small cell access points with converged access gateways and comprehensive network management and performance tools; as well as a strong track record of working with trusted partners on integrated solutions.

About Digicel:
Digicel Group Limited (Digicel) is a leading provider of communications services in 31 markets in the Caribbean and South Pacific regions, where the company provides a comprehensive range of Mobile Communications, Business Solutions, Cable TV & Broadband and other related products and services to retail, corporate (including small- and medium-sized enterprises) and government customers.

Digicel offers HSPA+ or long-term evolution (LTE) mobile technology (4G) in 30 markets and holds the number one mobile market position in 21 markets, with a mobile subscriber market share of more than 50% in 20 markets, as determined by internal company data.

Digicel launched mobile services in Jamaica, its first market, in 2001 and became the market leader there within 15 months of launch, based on a strategy that Digicel has since replicated successfully in several other markets. Digicel’s mobile subscriber base has grown from 0.4 million as of March 31, 2002 to 13.6 million subscribers as of March 31, 2015, representing a compound annual growth rate of 32.3%.

Digicel runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Jamaica, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago which focus on educational, cultural and social development programs. Digicel is the lead sponsor of Caribbean, Central American and Pacific sports teams and individuals including the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, and Special Olympics teams throughout these regions. Digicel also sponsors the West Indies cricket team.

About Caribsat:
Caribsat,  satellite Internet service provider for French West Indies and French Guiana, is committed to help bridge the digital divide. Offering Internet access services with bit rates up to 10 Mbps, the satellite technology delivered by Eutelsat allows us, without civil engineering costs and with immediate deployment, to connect governmental agencies, health centers, gendarmerie, businesses, schools and homes, regardless of their location.

With more than 250 sites deployed since July 2014, Caribsat French Guiana offers its expertise and that of its partners, to allow users living outside of the coastal region to benefit from the same « e-services »: Internet access, telephony, credit card payments, remote maintenance, video conference, video administrative services, remote learning, and many others.

Fully aligned with the objectives of the French national plan « France Très Haut Débit », Caribsat connects remote territories and makes a powerful contribution to their economic and social development.

About ITAS:
ITAS is a French industrial designer and manufacturer of towers and metal structures. ITAS in partnership with Digicel has developed a structure that meets the specific routing and installation constraints of the Canopé project, leading to the creation of a patented structure.
For further information please contact:
Nick Johnson
T: +44 (0) 1954 713702

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