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Voice in the Air for Bhutanese Valley

Bhutan is a small, mountainous country nestled between Tibet and India. A beautiful pristine country said to be one of the last Shangri-las, it is now emerging into the Information Age with the lifting of the ban on television and Internet in 1999. However, even now most people do have not readily available access to telephone and Internet communications.

smartBridges' dual radio access points being used to
provide wireless VoIP services in Bhutan

Samden Tech, an enterprising service provider and one of the first of its kind in Bhutan, has just embarked on an ambitious project to offer voice telephony over wireless for the homes and businesses in Tangmachu located in the east of the country. By using a wireless infrastructure to deliver voice, they significantly reduce the initial capital expenditure (CAPEX) and keep operating expenditure (OPEX) to a minimum, thus producing a faster return on investment while eliminating construction and ugly cables that would mar the beauty of the countryside.

Ronrig Mututsang, CEO of Samden Tech, said, �Our aim is to offer a cost-effective voice solution to the residents and small businesses located around the town of Tangmachu. Currently, this area is underserved with telephone lines and waiting for wired telephone infrastructure to be built could take years. In collaboration with the Bhutanese Department of Information Technology (DIT), we have started to offer pilot wireless VoIP services using smartBridges Nexus radios.�


Bhutan�s terrain is extremely mountainous with a high point at Kula Kangri, 24,779 ft (7,553 m). Hence, telecommunications infrastructure is expensive to build. This is exacerbated by the low population densities (increasing the cost per capita) and the relatively low incomes of regional populations (reducing the ability to recoup the costs of telecommunications infrastructure through service charges).

Namgay Wangchuk, Project Manager from DIT which is part of the Ministry of Information and Communication said, �Many communities live hours� if not days� walk from the nearest road and hence have poor access to information, healthcare and other government services. The network, using VSAT Internet backbone, VoIP phones and smartBridges radios, has improved communication between villagers. Now people don't have to walk from door to door to pass information.�

The project is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada which works in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world in their search for the means to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.

Click here to find out how Samden made voice communication possible for the community.

Click here to contact us if you are interested in doing a similar deployment.

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