Alcatel-Lucent today announced a new initiative at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to bring alternative power to wireless base stations. According to the company, the new “Alternative Energy Program” will allow it to address an estimated market of more than 100,000 sites by 2012.
At the core of the program is a new laboratory and pilot site at the company’s Villarceaux facility near Paris that is intended to bring together expertise from its internal resources, partner companies and institutions working with alternative energy.
“The way the industry deploys alternative energy powered base stations today is costly and time consuming because it is based on a site-by-site approach with multiple vendors involved – so it is a slow and laborious process and for the most part has only been done in sunny equatorial areas,” said Mike Iandolo, Alcatel-Lucent’s president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Wireless Product Division. “Our Alternative Energy Program will bring to market the very first integrated, pre-tested, mass-produced, alternatively powered wireless base stations, which can be deployed on a global scale with delivery lead times comparable to that for standard base stations.”
Like other initiatives by equipment suppliers working with alternative energy, the Alcatel-Lucent program seems to be targeted at off-grid sites, at least as the low hanging fruit.
“This project will allow operators to extend the reach of their mobile services to serve a huge population of potential new subscribers – the more than one billion people living in areas that are not served by an electrical grid and therefore do not have access to phone or broadband services,” the company said. “It also will enable operators to renovate their existing sites with alternative energy powered solutions that will reduce their operating costs and better preserve the environment.”
But there is hope out for the initiative to bring alternative energy to beyond remote sites, and into the mainstream. What the facility near Paris will do is enabled the industry to test and trial different alternative energy systems and solutions with wireless equipment to gauge their effectiveness, applicability and to validate solutions that work.
“The lab and pilot site near Paris is a development and live testing facility that will enable Alcatel-Lucent to analyze, evaluate, test and validate solutions being offered in the dynamic and fragmented alternative energies market and how they might be incorporated into the telecommunications industry,” the company said. “This facility will enable Alcatel-Lucent’s R&D teams to build in unprecedented levels of integration between alternative energy sources and telecommunications equipment to improve the overall energy efficiency of the telecom sites and lower costs for operators.”
One of the first undertakings of the program is to test the integration of its base station and alternative energy sources, including the energy controller equipment. The first experiment will test the power controller from Power Oasis, a UK-based provider of power solutions.
“The program capitalizes on Alcatel-Lucent’s recent energy efficiency innovations for wireless networks, and on its field experience with alternative energy through the installation of more than 300 solar-powered radio sites, to provide a robust set of turnkey base stations solutions powered with various alternative energies sources such as solar, wind, fuel cells, etc.”
You can find more information on the Program here.