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Mobile networks to be powered by Bio-fuels

The GSM Association (GSMA) has announced on Wednesday that it has teamed up with Ericsson and telecoms group MTN to establish bio-fuels as an alternative source of power for wireless networks in the developing world.

Ecology and economy is equally critical for mobile phone coverage in the less lucrative emerging markets. Diesel generators energise the base stations at remote locations. Supplying fuel across the unfriendly terrain is also a logistical nightmare. Such expensive exercise, however, inhibits the operators to invest in the low-yield regions.

These grueling problems have prompted the three organisations to set up a first of its kind pilot project in the world. They hope that bio-fuels may replace diesel as a source of power for mobile base stations located beyond the reach of the electricity grid.
 

They are setting up a supply chain designed to benefit the local population by sourcing a variety of locally-produced crops and processing them into bio-fuel in Nigeria. Groundnuts, pumpkin seeds, jatropha, and palm oil will be used in the initial pilot tests.
 

This non-fossil alternative gasoline also has a much lower impact on the environment than conventional diesel. Bio-diesel, being the cleaner burning fuel, results in fewer site-visits and also extends the life of the base station generator, reducing operators’ costs.
 

“In order to reach the next billion mobile users, we need to reach lower-spending segments of the population profitably,” said Ericsson’s sales and marketing vice president Bert Nordberg. “By using locally-produced bio-fuels, we could significantly lower the cost of operating mobile base stations in rural areas.”
 

The GSMA and Ericsson will draw on the findings of the pilot to help operators across the developing world to figure out they can use Bio-diesel to power their networks in the rural Nigeria.
 

Only 25 percent of this oil-rich country is connected to the electricity grid. MTN has invested in Y’ellowWatts, its own power system made up of an extensive grid of generators designed to keep the entire MTN network at an optimum level of performance.
 
“The early adoption of bio-fuel-powered mobile networks would place Africa at the forefront of a new wave of innovation that is making mobile communications affordable and accessible across the developing world,” said Karel Pienaar, CTIO of the MTN Group.
 Bio-diesel has several important advantages over conventional diesel as a power source for base stations. It can be produced locally, creating employment in rural areas, while reducing the need for transportation, related logistics and security.
 
“The extension of mobile networks into rural areas is vital to boost the social and economic welfare of the developing world,” said Rob Conway, GSMA’s CEO. “Bio-fuels have the potential to make that happen by giving mobile operators local access to a commercially and environmentally sustainable power supply.”
 

Bio-diesel has several important advantages over conventional diesel as a power source for base stations. It can be produced locally, creating employment in rural areas, while reducing the need for transportation, related logistics and security. “The extension of mobile networks into rural areas is vital to boost the social and economic welfare of the developing world,” said Rob Conway, GSMA’s CEO. “Bio-fuels have the potential to make that happen by giving mobile operators local access to a commercially and environmentally sustainable power supply.” The GSMA’s Development Fund finances this pilot project while Ericsson and MTN are setting up a pilot Bio-diesel-powered base station solution in Lagos and will later deploy Bio-diesel-fueled base stations in rural regions of south eastern and south western Nigeria.

4 Comments to Mobile networks to be powered by Bio-fuels

  1. gsm's Gravatar gsm
    February 3, 2007 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    this is a great idea, and hopefuly after the testing is done they can put it to good use.
    these sort of things improve realy the world, usualy the problem is money. big company’s would rather use nature killing resources when it’s cheaper.

  2. August 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Well, i dont find why one has to go for powering mobile networks with feul. As such feul consumption is so high in the world that we can run out of it anytime. its more important that we start generating power through new resources and use it for daily life purposes.

  3. September 28, 2008 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Very cool, I build biodiesel processors which turn waste vegetable oil into biodiesel. It is really amazing how simple the process is, as well as saving the customer $2-3 per gallon at the pumps. Its neat to think that mobile networks can be powered this way as well. Algae biodiesel looks even more promising. As the other poster said, we just need to keep moving in the right direction.

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