Indian mobile networks outstripped power grid

| January 3, 2008

India’s booming wireless industry is stretching the country’s power supply, especially as mobile operators continue to expand their networks to more remote and less developed parts of the country.

According to Jacob Mathew, general manager – projects for Idea Cellular, one of the biggest challenges of rolling out network infrastructure in the country is finding enough power to run new installations.

“In some places, there is only two, three hours of electricity each day, so we can’t rely on it as the main power supply for our network,” Mathew told Green Telecom. “That’s why we are now building our own generators alongside the network infrastructure to use as the primary power source.”

The Idea systems are powered by a regular diesel generator but is fueled using B20 biodiesel – a mixed of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel.

According to Mathew, thousands of base stations are being installed by India’s cellular operators to support the 8-9 million new subscribers signing up every month.

While Idea is also trialing wind and solar power systems, Mathew points out government regulations that allow 100% depreciation of the biodiesel generators after the first year makes it an attractive choice. “The ROI for these base stations is effectively two and a half years,” he said, adding that the diesel generators may also allow the operator to apply for carbon credits, but declined to give further details.

He revealed that the Indian government has set up a committee to study and formulate climate change policy for the country’s telecommunications industry.

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Category: Mobile

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