Now Cow Dung to Power Mobile Telephony

Your mobile network may soon be powered by cow dung.
Ericsson and Idea Cellular in India with the help of GSM
Association are rolling out mobile towers powered by
bio-fuels. The towers are expected to bring down opex
significantly and may bring down cost of calls in rural areas.

According to Lehman Brothers, about $5,600 is spent on
a tower as opex each year by an operator with no sharing.
Besides cutting down on fuel costs needed to power
towers, biofuels can also help bring down cost of sharing
amongst operators.

In a pilot project in Pune city, the three organisations;
Ericsson, Idea Cellular and GSMA will begin using biofuels
to power mobile base stations which are beyond the reach
of the electricity grid. The first phase of the project, which
is testing the feasibility of non-edible plant-based fuels
such as cotton and jatropha, is nearing completion.
Manure may also be used as bio-fuel.

The second phase of the project will entail producing
biodiesel from biofuel to power up to 10 base stations in a
mobile tower chain in Maharashtra. The base stations will
be up and running by mid-2007. All sorts of
bio-degradable fuels will be used to power the networks.
The idea is to move away from petroleum-based
fuels and present a case for bringing down costs by using
bio-fuel.

Biofuel can be produced from metabolic by-products.
Of the global cow population of 1.5 billion, India has the
largest share - over 200 million.

Biofuels will help to further extend mobile coverage into
rural areas, where there may be lack of reliable power
supply. Produced locally, biodiesel may create
employment, while reducing the need for transportation,
related logistics and security. It will also extend the life of
the base station generator, reducing operators' costs.

The alliance partners propose to sharing the expertise and
knowledge gained from this project with other mobile
operators around the world.
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