HomeInsightsTelecoms go green, think low OPEX

    Telecoms go green, think low OPEX


    The MWC was awash with the products and solutions marketed as "sustainable" and "eco-friendly". Altruistic motives aside, the numerous "green" announcements are driven by some pragmatic objectives, such as lowering OPEX for MNOs in both emerging and developed markets, responding to the increased energy efficiency requirements from mobile operators, and addressing growing demand for eco-friendliness of IT products from various stakeholders.

    Two major themes emerged at the Congress: the use of renewable sources of energy to power mobile sites and the overall improvements in the energy efficiency of mobile devices and network equipment.

    Solutions integrating renewable sources with the base station were demonstrated in the Green Pavilion of MWC by several start-ups, such as PowerOasis, Flexenclosure and Structa Power. A small number of base stations powered by solar, wind and hydro are already installed in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Further commitments to deploy "greener" sites have been voiced by Vodafone and Orange. By the end of 2009, Orange plans to bring the number of solar-powered sites to 1,000 from more than 300 today. The CAPEX for these is 3-4 times higher than for the equivalent diesel-powered sites, but the reduction in OPEX is as high as 80%, justifying longer payback period.

    High-volume deployments will bring down the prices and improve the business case. "We expect that 2011 will be the inflexion point for the adoption of renewable sources in the mobile industry," said Juha-Erkki Mäntyniemi, Head of Environmental Affairs at Nokia Siemens Networks. To enable the high-volume turn-key deployment of mobile sites powered by renewables, Alcatel-Lucent announced the new Alternative Energy Program.

    In parallel, network vendors announced 3G/4G solutions with self-optimising capabilities, reduced number of network elements, and lowered the power consumption of single RAN base stations and IP packet core equipment. Most of these solutions aim to improve the network efficiency, achieving the green end by different means.