Under the Kazakh Sun

Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world with a land mass the size of Argentina, but a population of only 19 million. Some 40% or 7.5 million people live in rural and remote areas. Kazakhsan’s vast land, high mountains and harsh extreme continental climate mean taking digital connectivity to remote corners of the country is a herculean task – but one that will surely lead to a steep change, bridging the gap between the urban centers and the rural areas.  

VEON’s digital operator in the country, Beeline Kazakhstan, would leave no stone unturned, even if it meant solving the energy puzzle in off-the-grid areas, so that network sites could be connected to each other first, providing connectivity to settlements. 

The solution that Beeline deployed was solar-powered radio relay nodes  to enable transmission of 4G signal. These nodes connect base stations back to the existing telecoms network. Each node consists of 12 solar panels that in peak times produce 4 kW of power, sufficient to ensure stable 4G voice and mobile internet connectivity for villages. Without the solar-powered nodes, these villages would not be able to have broadband connectivity as the electricity available in the area is too low in volume to support large industrial equipment. 

“This technological solution helps us deliver on our strategy of bridging the digital divide between big cities and small remote villages,” explains Evgeny Nastradin, the CEO of Beeline Kazakhstan. “With solar-powered connector nodes, we can now rely on renewable energy to take our 4G everywhere, which in turn enables our customers to have access to education, financial services and entertainment.” 

“Use of renewable energy, in this case, solar power, complements our work in energy resilience as a digital operator. This technology helps us offer connectivity to all the people in remote villages that lack the infrastructure of big cities, in a variety of natural environments and weather conditions,” said Khusain Zhulduzbaev, Chief Engineer in the Karaganda unit of Beeline Kazakhstan. “To achieve this unprecedented project the nodes are equipped with batteries that can work in extreme temperatures.” 

Beeline has already installed two radio relay connector nodes in the Karaganda and Aktobe regions of Kazakhstan and plan to install 11 more before the end of 2024. Alongside its solar powered 4G network initiative, Beeline Kazakhstan is also supporting the Kazakh Government’s 250+ Programme that is providing internet connectivity to villages with a population of over 250 people. 

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