ST Engineering iDirect and Gilat Telecom partner on mobile backhaul in the DRC

ST Engineering iDirect and Gilat Telecom partner on mobile backhaul in the DRC

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ST Engineering iDirect and Gilat Telecom have completed the remote installation and commissioning of a mobile backhaul network in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Specifically, the project saw the installation of two Newtec Dialog hubs to power the aforementioned mobile backhaul network for operator Vodacom.

The new hubs enable Vodacom to migrate its VSAT-based 2G network to 3G across 150 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) sites with the Base Station Controller in Kinshasa. The new deployment replaces traditional SCPC links and increases efficiency in facilitating 3G data traffic.

“This is a fantastic example of how collaboration among teams can overcome challenges and make a project happen,” said Pieter-Paul Mooijman, regional vice president of Africa at ST Engineering iDirect.

“I am incredibly proud of what has been achieved with Gilat Telecom under such adverse circumstances. We are always prepared to give our best to support our partners and customers in their endeavours and enable their success.”

Dialog’s Mx-DMA return technology was one of the reasons why Vodacom selected it, as it enables the network to automatically adjust bandwidth demand in real-time along with daily fluctuations in offering enhanced optimisation of mobile traffic.

In addition, Dialog also enables effective management of a variety of different modems all on the same platform, simplifying and streamlining an otherwise complex operation.

"We are already enjoying the benefits of the deployment of the Dialog platform. Thanks to its Mx-DMA return technology, the reliability of the VSAT links has increased significantly, especially in heavy rain. As a consequence, we have also seen an increase in user traffic on the links migrated to Dialog," said Jean-Bedel Nyanga, transmission director at Vodacom DRC.

"Additionally, in comparison with SCPC links, we have also noticed that Dialog enables us to perform network changes much more easily and rapidly, with less human resources and no intervention on remote sites. This has enabled us to operate more efficiently and make substantial cost savings." 

The Dialog platform will also support Vodacom’s future growth, enabling increased satellite network coverage and deliver significant capacity when needed.

The deployment, which started in April 2020, was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic which has delayed the progress of global satellite network installations. Instead the teams, which were based in Belgium and Kinshasa, turned to remote installation of the hubs.

“To expedite the project, we were in constant contact with the ST Engineering iDirect team in Belgium. We also installed a camera in the Teleport in Kinshasa so that they were able to see what was happening, and shared detailed images to ensure that every step was completed correctly,” said Jordan Dayan, System Engineer at Gilat Telecom.

“It was this close collaboration and access to each dedicated team member at all hours of the day that enabled us to complete the installation of the first hub in two days and the second in just one day. It was a great team effort and I thank every one of the engineers that were involved.”

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