Enabling Rural Connectivity

MER designed and implemented Light Site, an off-grid solution for connectivity in rural regions.

Globally, over 1 billion new Internet users have been added over the last five years. Yet, over a third of the world’s people (2.7​ billion) do not use the Internet.

While virtually all urban areas in the world are covered by a mobile-broadband network, worrying gaps in connectivity and Internet access persist in rural areas. Globally, in 2020, 76% of households in urban areas had access to the Internet at home, almost twice as much as in rural areas (39%).

Connectivity gaps in rural areas are especially serious in less developed countries, where 15% of the rural population live in areas with no mobile coverage at all, and 10% of the rural population is covered by only a 2G network. in Africa for example, about 18% of the rural population has no mobile network coverage at all (data by the International Telecommunication Union, 2021) and another 11% has only 2G coverage. This means that nearly 30% of people living in Africa’s rural areas cannot access the internet.

The coverage gap is almost as significant in the Americas, where – as of 2021 – over a quarter of the rural population had no access to the internet.


MER’s Cost-Effective Solution

The main challenge in providing telecommunication coverage in rural areas – where population is sparse and there are no roads and electricity grids – is overcoming an unfavorable cost-benefit equation. For mobile network operators, investing in upgrading cellular networks in urban areas is often more profitable than building similar networks in rural areas.

MER has met this challenge head-on.

Utilizing decades of experience in design and implementation communication infrastructure and cellular networks, the MER team of system engineers and field experts came up with Light Site, a simple to implement, off-grid solution for bringing internet and cellular services to rural regions.

The Light Site solution includes a 30-meter-tall tower with antennas, a micro base transceiver station (BTS) that facilitates wireless communication, a self-sustaining energy system based on solar panels, and a satellite (VSAT modem).

Light Site Architecture


MER has implemented the Light Site solution in dozens of rural locations throughout Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and other African countries, bringing both connectivity and off-grid electricity to hundreds of people. As a result, the quality of life for people in these rural areas improved, by way of increased access to online services for health, education and agriculture management.