Greening the Base

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Renewable energy for BTS and solar powered remote base stations using micro

fuel cells is another solution which is being looked at by a number of operators

like BT, NTT, DOCOMO, and Optus, among others. Ericsson was the first one to

introduce a solar powered base station on the basis of the design floated by a

Scandinavian architect called Thomas Sandell. Other operators are now looking at

building such as towers, especially in rural areas where electricity is in a

constant flux.


Accordingly, the new tower design by Sandell comprises an

all-in-one mobile broadband tower that can be set up in less than twenty-four

hours and is designed to stand out or get camouflaged, as its surroundings

demand. Moreover, these mobile towers are about 14 meters tall and weighs about

800 kg. They require barely two meter equilateral triangle of ground space, and

their composite exterior can be illuminated if needed.

Since concrete towers have a lower environmental impact

than the traditional steel used for base towers, and produces 30% less carbon

emissions during production and transportation, these new towers can aid green

. It also does not make use of active cooling, thus reducing energy

consumption up to 40%. The radio base station is placed at the top of the tower,

thus cutting the distance between the antenna and the tower.

As the new design occupies 60-75% less land than

conventional sites, site acquisition is easier as well. Besides, given its

self-contained structure, operators can avoid the need for security fences and

the cost of maintaining and patrolling them.


90% of the total power consumption of wireless network is

at BTS cell sites; out of which 58% of the total power is consumed by electrical

equipments. Since many cell sites use legacy energy furnished equipments,

managing both demand and supply of power at cell sites is the key to green

telecom. For tower companies the biggest bottleneck is backhaul availability, as

80% of rural BTS is on microwave system, which the USO Fund presently does not

provide any support for.

Thus, GTL has launched a slew of energy saving initiatives

towards green telecom including R&D solutions which are being worked on at

present are GLOSTAR, GLOGAS and GLOSUPER, which comprise new products under

development. The GTL project is still at a validation stage, but promises to be

an additional source of revenue for SPs and consumers, once it is launched. GTL

has also floated a new company called Global Rural Netco to actively participate

in infrastructure sharing, which is a combination of passive infrastructure

sharing in rural areas and active sharing in urban areas, and is technology

agnostic and low cost as well.


Tower and software sharing have brought down capex and

opex in rural areas, and there is an increasing need to bring down power

consumption of BTS by turning down power in times of low traffic. Thus, active

sharing needs to be fully used, since at present, active sharing and backhaul is

not being shared among operators and neither is passive sharing used

independently by tower companies. Moreover, optic fiber capacity is also not

being shared optimally by SPs. Opex should thus be brought down to support


Software solutions providers are now working on radio

technology to be used in base stations which will be compatible with all

networks like WiMax, etc, and can be used extensively in rural areas. For

example, one router for hundred customers. The government is also providing USO

funding for hybrid power of up to Rs 50 lakh, and Reliance is one operator that

is availing it. Hybrid power is said to reduce operation and opex greatly.

Leasing towers to operators is the next step in active

sharing (backhaul, antennas, video process), and comprises critical innovation

that can enable connectivity that is much needed, especially in rural areas.

Using solar power and low energy solutions can assist further in integrating the

optimum use of available resources and reducing the growing carbon footprint,

which base stations today are one of the biggest contributors to. In this way,

we will be able to put green telecom preaching into practice.

Beryl M