Mobile operators need to be greener

Operators can reap up to 40 percent energy savings "without doing too much" and not cutting energy requirements is almost "a criminal act", says analyst.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--There is "lots of scope" for telcos to become more green, and not making an effort to reduce energy requirements is almost "a criminal act", according to an analyst.

Mobile operators in emerging markets in particular, can achieve 30 percent to 40 percent energy savings in their radio infrastructure "without doing too much", Dipesh Mohile, senior telecom analyst at Tonse Telecom, said Thursday at the Green Telecoms forum of imbX (Infocomm Media Business Exchange) 2009. Tonse Telecom is a research consultancy focused on the telecommunications sector in India.

More telcos putting 'green' in RFPs

More service providers are making "green" provisions in their RFPs (requests for proposal) to ICT vendors, industry watchers said Thursday at the imbX 2009 Green Telecoms conference.
Brendan Leitch, Juniper Networks' Asia-Pacific director of service provider marketing, noted that more power consumption metrics have been included into RFPs in the last couple of years, signaling a growing interest by telcos in green equipment. The areas of concern, he added, are mainly in energy efficiency, material compliance and carbon emissions.
Concurring, Anup Changaroth, director of Nortel Asia, said some telcos stipulate "very specific clauses" relating to energy efficiency levels they want their equipment to fulfill.
"Those kinds of requirements you are going to see more and more," he noted. "/>"In the Asia-Pacific, the [trend] is a bit slower but before long we will start to see [such demands] as well."

In fact, energy requirements of cell sites or base stations can be reduced as much as 75 percent to 80 percent without any need for hefty capital expenditure, Bangalore-based Mohile added.

Network optimization, said Mohile, offers the most significant energy reductions, followed by site optimization and renewable energy. At the network level, it was possible to reduce the number of cell sites by 30 percent to 50 percent, with the help of intelligent network planning.

Better optimization of sites can come about by equipment upgrades, he noted. By just using a new base station for a 1,000-node network, about US$2 million can be saved a year. Operators, he added, should also be mindful of potential transmitting power losses, as up to 50 percent of energy can be lost from the antenna to the radio through feeder cables. This loss can be avoided through strategic positioning--placing the remote radio unit near the antenna.

According to Mohile, other site optimization strategies include tapping on "Save" power mode for non-peak intervals and using equipment capable of functioning at higher temperatures.

Green operators, the analyst noted, may not necessarily have to engage renewable or wind energy. However, alternative energy sources will help telcos become less dependent on grid power and diesel, especially given the fluctuations in oil prices in recent times. However, Mohile acknowledged that operators must first focus on reducing energy requirements in their premises, before tapping on renewable energy as these sources become "unviable at high loads".

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