London — NuRAN comes back from near death financial experience to implement its first network as a service contract with Vodafone in Ghana
NuRAN has come out of the financial valley of the shadow of death to announce its first network as a service implementation with Vodafone in Ghana. Russell Southwood spoke to Francis Letourneau, CEO, NuRAN about the company’s new direction.
Newly minted network as a service provider, NuRAN Wireless has announced its first contract for seven sites in Ghana with Vodafone. Two weeks ago the first site went live and the others will follow.
The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down progress on the implementation, as it has been both difficult supplying goods and getting people to go to the site. As a result, it has been just over a year since NuRAN won a GBP330,000 grant as the winner of the GSMA Connected Society Innovation Fund for Rural Connectivity to carry out the work. It will be used to “to test and evaluate their new, innovative mobile internet connectivity solution for unconnected rural communities in Ghana”.
Earlier at the end of October it won a second network as a service contract in Cameroon in partnership with Clear Blue Technologies to supply Orange with its base stations. Phase 1 roll-out across 120 sites will take 12 months, commencing in Q4 2020. The total contract value is CAD 1.45 million.
Network as a Service means that NuRAN provides the telecoms equipment and Clear Blue offers energy-as-a-service. Translation? Both provide the CAPEX and get their return by taking a percentage of the OPEX from the revenues created. The aim is to create “a better return on investment, which reduces costs for rural telecommunications operators”.
NuRAN has arranged risk financing in local currencies with African banks like UBA, Standard Chartered and Citibank on a country-by-country basis and will run its own local ‘opcos’, rolling them out one by one. Speaking after the Ghana launch, Letourneau said the company had faced several bumps in the road with the Ghana implementation but that “a major learning curve has come to an end.”
On 29 October 2020 NuRAN Wireless Inc. announced that it had completed the corporate restructuring process relating to the assignment into bankruptcy of its wholly owned subsidiary and operating company Nutaq Innovation Inc:”In connection with the corporate restructuring the Company purchased all of the assets of Nutaq with the support of its secured creditors and has resumed the entire mobile and broadband wireless infrastructure supply operations previously operated by Nutaq.” As part of that announcement it said:” A second NAAS MOU is still under final negotiation with an MNO in Africa with 600 projected sites over 3 to 5 years.” The assets Nuran Wireless secured included the IP it bought from bankrupt low cost base station vendor Altobridge in 2015 and next year it will launch a product that will work with 2, 3 and 4G.
Letourneau has been pleased by the support the company has received from its clients, system integrators and VSAT providers:”We want to make a social impact over time so it’s great people wanted to keep us alive.”
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