Our Technology

AMN builds mobile network infrastructure which delivers 2G, 3G and 4G services to rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. AMN has traded large investments and high complexity in the core for the greatest simplicity and lowest cost in the radio access network, to allow the access network to be rolled out rapidly and on a huge scale to reach the smallest communities and largest total population.

AMN's radio access network (RAN) uses a standard design which integrates power, backhaul connectivity and the local access network in a single structure for lowest capex and most efficient deployment. AMN standard base stations are deployed in typically 4 hours.

The power system is based on solar technology, which is environmentally friendly and comes with zero opex. Two solar panels, mounted at the top of the monopole mast, generate energy from the sun, which charge a highly-sophisticated Lithium-Ion battery pack, made up of 288 cells controlled by a management computer and offering up to 3 days of autonomy.

The local access network uses fully-compliant (3GPP standard) mobile network technology and AMN is able to deploy 2G (GSM) and 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) technologies, which enable the local community to communicate via ultra-low-cost feature phones or very-high-end smartphones - or tablets or PCs - to access the full range of voice and data services.

AMN is vendor agnostic and uses a range of technology solutions from different vendors, and is continually evaluating new carrier-grade commercial products that can meet its demanding technical and commercial requirements. AMN is a founding and active member of the Facebook-led Telecom Infra Project (TIP), which includes the development of low-cost open-sourced and carrier-grade products under the Open Cellular (OC) initiative. AMN leads the field integration and test activities for OC and has deployed "OC2G" BTS with different tier-1 operators in 3 different countries so far. AMN has also completed inter-operability testing of the "OCLTE" eNodeB with a tier-1 operator in DRC. The first AMN site with 2G (900MHz GSM) + 3G (2100MHz UMTS) + 4G (1800MHz LTE) will be deployed early 2019.

AMN's network design philosophy is based on small cells which deliver strong signal to cover an area each of 3 to 5 square Km, which is a range of between 1km and 2Km from the tower, which is normally positioned near the centre of a village. The AMN design is highly scalable and each tower can be upgraded to add more capacity as needed to meet demand. Multiple towers are used to expand coverage and capacity without limit.

The base station is connected to the core network and the rest of the world via a 2-way VSAT ("Very Small Aperture Terminal") satellite link which has been optimised to minimise latency and jitter and to maximise link availability, even in the worst-case rainy-season conditions. AMN uses Ku-band as the optimum balance between cost per bit and link availability and enjoys access to the highest-performance capacity over Africa via the EPIC range of satellites from our investor-partner Intelsat. The high-gain spot-beam architecture of the EPIC High-Throughput Satellites (HTS) delivers very high throughput (Mbps) per MHz with small VSAT dishes at the remote base stations. Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) allows the links to be adapted real-time to maintain the network availability during severe weather whilst at the same time operating with maximum efficiency and throughput in clear-sky conditions. The AMN core network includes a large Radio Frequency Terminal (RFT) and VSAT hub, connected to many thousands of remote VSAT terminals at the base stations. The VSAT network is highly flexible and efficient, delivering bandwidth on demand (BOD) to each site as needed without any practical limit, whilst also minimising the aggregate network bandwidth utilisation. AMN's VSAT network is highly optimised to deliver low latency, low jitter (typically below 10ms) and zero packet loss 24x7 no matter what level of traffic exists on the network.

AMN's network is monitored 24x7 by its Global Network Operations Centre (GNOC) which is based at AMN's headquarters near London, UK. The GNOC manages all changes to the network, under strict change-control procedures. AMN has developed a bespoke network management system (NMS) which shows all sites in real-time on a map of Africa, with alarms generated for any monitored parameters which are out of spec. AMN monitors every aspect of a site, including BTS/NodeB status, voice and data traffic levels, KPIs, latency, jitter, packet loss, battery voltage, load current and the temperature inside the cabinet. Each site is equipped with CCTV with intrusion detection.

Also based at the AMN headquarter is AMN's network planning department. The network planners are responsible for identifying suitable villages for AMN revenue-share sites in each country, which are villages with (a) sufficient people, typically around 1,000 or more and (b) no existing usable mobile service. These sites are then released to AMN's in-country teams for a physical site survey. The network planners will then select the optimum location for the tower, which will normally be close to the centre of the village and from where the maximum population coverage can be achieved. The network planners will then generate simulations of the coverage that will be achieved, which will later be used to verify the implementation after the site has been built.

A successful base station deployment means the network is not only available to people, but has many people making use of it - which means people must have access to affordable phones and SIMs and airtime. Even entry-level feature phones can be prohibitively expensive for many rural dwellers, providing another barrier to entry to use the new telecom services. AMN has worked with leading manufacturers to develop ultra-low-cost feature phones which are AMN branded and AMN makes available at circa $2 in the villages. We make our phones in both yellow and orange colour.

A fully-connected Africa is within reach.