Magazine Store

50 Most Valuable Brands of the Year 2020

Focused on technical innovation to enable cellular coverage in areas that cannot be covered profitably with existing technology: Vanu, Inc.


We know how frustrating things can get when you don’t get network, especially when you have something really important to do. We introduce you to Vanu, a global provider of turnkey mobile communications solutions that allow MNOs to serve off -grid markets. Vanu’s headquarters are strategically located in key markets in Gurgaon and Bangalore, India, Kigali, Rwanda and Lexington, MA, USA, providing geographic proximity of deployments in six continents. The company was founded in 1998 and grew out of ground breaking research in software defined radio at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Vanu developed the Anywave® Base Station. Anywave was the first software defined radio certified by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

How does Vanu Maps work?

Vanu developed a series of proprietary software algorithms that can produce maps incorporating coverage, population, terrain, propagation and other factors with a level of precision not previously available to these markets.

Using this data along with site information, the company generates high resolution coverage predictions of each site.

Information from each site is then aggregated to develop a regional view of coverage and its complement, uncovered areas.

Population, economic activity, tourism, displaced populations, conflicts, natural resources, and other activity that generates need for cellular connectivity can then be layered on top of the coverage model to assess areas of greatest need.

Finally, the mapping tool can be used to plan the optimal placement of the new small-cell sites based on the identified areas of need, topographical, terrain and propagation information. Vanu views connectivity as essential for meeting sustainable development goals, to enable financial inclusion, and to have impact, but Vanu also views connectivity as something it must be able to deliver profitability because with 1.2 billion people its solution must scale to have a meaningful impact in terms of being able to connect a significant percentage of those without connectivity today. Its key focus is delivering profitable systems to these markets to create connectivity. The mapping tool is a way of identifying where those markets are. The firm also developed the mapping tool with an awareness that there are other businesses out there that need connectivity to be able to execute on what they do and it can help businesses identify where they can go, where there is connectivity if they rely on it to make sure their business will be successful and they won’t run into a brick wall when they get there. They have predicated their business model on mobile payments or off-grid solar power and then there is no connectivity so then they can’t monetize their investment. So, there’s a dual purpose of the tool. Its mapping service is available to help all businesses understand where coverage exists.

Off-grid markets present unique challenges for operators that require specialized solutions. As the first software defined radio certified for commercial use in the United States, Vanu is a pioneer in the area of open platform innovation and uses the performance and cost advantages of these open platforms to connect off-grid communities.

Vanu helps close the digital divide by providing cellular mobile connectivity to remote, off-grid markets that have not had opportunities to seize the economic, social and cultural advantages generated by cellular coverage. Built to minimize costs for power, backhaul and maintenance, Vanu’s equipment, tools and services enable MNOs to provide off-grid coverage profitably. In addition, Vanu’s unique high-resolution coverage mapping tool, VanuMaps™, provides MNOs, their partners and potential investors with the high-resolution network planning data needed to more accurately and efficiently identify the return on investment afforded by serving previously uncovered villages.

Vanu enables mobile network operators to profit in off-grid markets that cannot be covered profitably by using legacy telecommunication equipment and traditional business models. Currently, 1.2 billion people lack connectivity. Vanu helps mobile network operators profit by serving this market.

Off-grid markets require special solutions to profitably and sustainably address this opportunity – an opportunity that is around $5 billion, annually. Vanu’s pioneering software radio equipment lowers capital and operating expense to make the off-grid market addressable.

Vanu offers turnkey solutions that include deployment and operations services in addition to towers, transport, and radio access network equipment that is highly optimized for this market. For example, tower solutions are easy to ship and deploy in remote markets. The battery solution not only monitors the health of the system but heals the battery to increase its overall lifetime.

GSM/EDGE is still the dominant cellular standard to serve the off-grid markets. There are a few key reasons that drive this.

  • GSM handsets are affordable and widely available in these markets.
  • A GSM handset can last much longer on a single charge, this is of huge value where power is scarce and charging (even for GSM feature phones) costs more than usage charges on a monthly basis

Any solution deployed to serve off-grid markets must include GSM to serve the market profitably. Profitable service is essential to achieve the scale and sustainability necessary to address this large market opportunity.

The Vanu Anywave platform is a multi-band multi-standard radio access node. The highly innovative platform is designed to support multiple configurations and these configuration changes can be made through software. This unique approach allows operators to offer voice connectivity and over time upgrade the network to overlay LTE services for premium users.  The Vanu solution addresses the cost and complexity of network evolution.

Meet the Expert

Andrew Beard, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder: Andrew is a provider of innovative wireless infrastructure solutions. Founded in 1998, Vanu, Inc. pioneered the commercialization of software-defined radio and was the first company to receive FCC certification of a software-defined radio. Prior to serving as CEO, Andrew served as Chief Operating Officer from the inception of the company, with responsibility for oversight of all operations, including sales, engineering, support, finance, production. Andrew also has lead strategy for identifying, protecting and monetizing key intellectual property assets. Andrew helped to incubate and launch ventures such as VANU Rwanda, working with carriers, regulators and investors to define and implement strategies. Prior to joining Vanu, Inc. Mr. Beard practiced law with Foley Hoag LLP where his practice focused on corporate securities and transactional matters for technology-oriented companies. Mr. Beard has the personal distinction of serving on the m-Powering Development Advisory Board for the ITU.

“Vanu’s software Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions enable the rapid development of new form factors targeting specific market needs.”