First wind-and-solar-powered GSM base stations trialled in Namibia

13 Feb 2007

Motorola has signed an agreement with the GSM Association (GSMA) and Mobile Telecommunications (MTC) of Namibia to conduct a trial of wind-and-solar-powered systems to support the cellco’s remote GSM cell sites in the southern African country. The US-based vendor says that the world’s first customer-based trial of the technology is expected to run from April to July 2007. The pilot involves the installation of the Motorola wind-and-solar solution at an operational MTC Namibia cell site where it will act as the electrical power source. The cell site will remain a part of MTC Namibia’s current wireless network and continue to carry the same levels of traffic. According to Motorola, the ‘green’ solution provides a feasible and efficient alternative to using fuel generators when a main grid connection is unavailable, problematic or prohibitively expensive. Once installed, the cost of power is almost zero, and the cell sites will require ‘minimal’ maintenance compared to a diesel-driven generator, which generally requires, at a minimum, a monthly visit for refueling and can also be heavily prone to theft. This translates into added savings in operating expenditure (OPEX), a key factor for emerging market network operators. 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.’