The mobile industry is going green. Already vendors have begun a series of initiatives from 'green phones' that mitigate radiation to mobile phone chargers that use less standby power to address environment issues. As the need to reduce cost and environmental awareness among mobile operators continue to rise, telecom equipment suppliers now are taking green initiatives more seriously than ever. And the recent focus is on the provisioning of eco-friendly and energy-efficient solutions, particularly base stations and cell sites, which consume the majority of a network's energy.
Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), for example, upped the ante in the green base station race in November by unveiling a new energy-efficient base station, which it claims enables up to 70% savings in energy consumption.
In a network with approximately 5,000 base stations, serving a large metropolitan area, the annual energy saving would be the equivalent of 73,000 tons of CO2 emissions, the emissions generated annually by 21,000 cars, the company says.
Nokia had sold its low-power Flexi GSM base-station equipment to China Mobile Beijing to support its network during the 2008 Olympic Games, according to Daniel Tsen, NSN's head of radio technology for Greater China region.
The radio access gear is only part of what NSN said would be a larger green push by the vendor. According to NSN, the company has reduced energy consumption across its base station portfolio, with energy consumption levels of 800W and 500W respectively for its GSM and W-CDMA base stations. It intends to further reduce this to 650W and 300W respectively by 2010.
Moving forward NSN will also be addressing its basic materials used in product engineering with the goal to make smaller, more durable products that can be re-used and the components of which can be recycled once they reach the end of their life cycle, said Simon Beresford-Wylie, CEO of NSN.
The race is on
NSN isn't the first vendor to announce a green initiative. Already vendors like Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei Technologies, Ericsson and Motorola have introduced energy-efficient and eco-friendly base stations and undertaken various initiatives aimed at helping operators reduce power consumption and their overall carbon footprint.
In the wireless sector, said Andre Mechaly, VP of marketing and communications at Alcatel-Lucent's mobile access division, the company has introduced base stations that significantly reduce power consumption, through the elimination of the need for air conditioning or heating elements, and reduction in the physical number of base station sites required.
'The power supply reduction that Alcatel-Lucent mobile radio infrastructure solutions enable an operator to achieve cost efficiencies in the range of 10% to 15% of an entire network's annual total cost of ownership.' Mechaly noted, adding that the solution has been deployed by T-Mobile and Reliance.
In its latest green initiative, the company has developed a 'dynamic power save feature' that can reduce the power consumption of its GSM base stations by 25%. The feature is scheduled for introduction later this year.
In the meantime, Ericsson in September unveiled a base station site that incorporates all equipment into a single concrete tower, with the base station at the top, near the antenna.
Zhang Shen, senior market manager for network solutions at Ericsson, says concrete has a lower environmental impact than traditional steel, producing 30% less CO2 emissions during production and transportation.