Pakistan’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, Telenor Pakistan, has inked a deal with Finnish vendor Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) that will see the latter build off-grid cell sites using solar power for the cellco. The deal is expected to help Telenor expand its coverage to regions that are currently unserved, with Khalid Shahzad, Telenor Pakistan’s CTO, noting: ‘Expanding into rural areas is a challenge, as there is no access to the electricity grid to supply power to base stations. Traditional alternatives, such as diesel generators, are neither environmentally-friendly nor cost-efficient.’ Under the agreement NSN will design the cell sites, taking into account local solar mapping and site landscape, along with other factors, and will deploy the equipment in a number of rural and remote areas.
Telenor will fund the expansion project by utilising funds it was awarded by the country’s Universal Service Fund (USF) earlier this year; it has bagged three USF-based contracts so far, covering the Mirpurkhas, Malakand and Bahawalpur regions.
Telenor Pakistan was the first cellular operator in Pakistan to have a site dependent on solar technology in January 2008.