Motorola has signed an agreement with the GSM Association (GSMA) and MTC Namibia to conduct a trial for wind and solar power systems to support the African operator’s remote GSM cell sites.
Few days ago, Idea, Ericsson and GSMA had announced a project in India in order to use biodiesel to power mobile base stations located beyond the reach of the electricity grid.
The trial is expected to run from April 2007 to July 2007. It involves the installation of the Motorola wind and solar solution at an operational MTC Namibia cell site where the solution will become the electrical power source for the site. The cell site will remain a part of MTC Namibia’s current wireless network and continue to carry the same levels of traffic.
This ‘green’ solution provides a feasible and efficient alternative to using fuel generators when a main grid connection is not available. Once installed, the cost of power is almost zero, and wind and solar powered cell sites require minimal maintenance.
Dawn Hartley, development fund manager at the GSMA said: “Off-grid connectivity is a key challenge for Operators, in particular in developing world markets, and until cost-effective, practical solutions are commonplace, the digital divide will persist. The GSMA is therefore committed to piloting alternative energies for powering base stations, and we are delighted to be involved in this trial in Namibia.”
Stefano Mattiello, regional sales director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Motorola Networks & Enterprise, said “Motorola’s heritage in innovative communication networks is being applied in optimizing this type of solution for rural areas and it’s very exciting that we have the first trial anywhere in the world here in Africa. The solution will successfully combine with other power optimization features for GSM cell sites that are currently in development and although the trial is being done on a GSM network the technology can be applied to any wireless network in an off-grid scenario.”
This announcement follows Motorola’s successful UK trial in 2006 which demonstrated the feasibility of alternative power systems to support remote GSM base stations (BTS). The trial concluded that a combination of solar cells and wind turbines can generate 1,200 watts in a continual cycle; enough to drive a mid-sized BTS and support a microwave backhaul installation.
Powering GSM cell sites in both developed and emerging markets is a challenge for operators because of the high cost or difficulty of provisioning mains electrical power. Motorola’s green-powered BTS, part of the company’s Reach GSM portfolio, can replace or reduce the load on mains power and can also remove the need for power generators that require continual re-fueling and security.