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Should Mobile Operators be More "Green"?

Level 1
Level 1

Two similar industry events took place this week on opposite sides of the world: Light Reading's Green Telecoms East in New York and Infocomm's Green Telecoms Forum in Singapore.  During both events, multiple speakers addressed the Mobile industry's challenges wrt energy efficiency.  At the Light Reading event, vendors and operators looked at ways to reduce base station power consumption, including smaller and/or consolidated base stations, advanced materials and components, and alternative energy sources, such as wind or solar power.  At the Infocomm event, speakers focused on network optimization through intelligent network design and site optimzation through equipment modernization as the quickest and most practical route to significant power reduction.

What do you think?  Depending on which estimate you believe, a Mobile operator could reduce its power consumption by anywhere from 30 to 70 percent through some combination of network modifcations and/or upgrades.  Such actions have obvious environmental benefits -- which can translate into positive PR and public goodwill; always desired in this competitive market -- but in these tough economic times, I'm sure most operators are simply looking for ways reduce any and all costs.

Combine those considerations with a growing number of pending energy efficiency regulations and requirements and it appears Mobile operators are facing a critical need to do something significant and do it now.

So, what should they do?  What will they do?  Is there a path to consumption reduction you favor?  What will be the impact on service delivery and quality, if any?   What do you see as the biggest obstacle to implementation?  What are the primary benefits?

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Level 1
Level 1

This topic seems to be picking up steam in the press, especially in Europe, where carbon emission regulations are strict and impacts on businesses are significant.  Nick Flaherty, in his blog on the potential energy impacts of femtocells, states that operators use 4,000GW/year, equating to 200,000 tons of carbon emitted.  That equals 25kg of carbon per user, on average.  And as energy costs continue to climb, along with fines and penalties for excessive emissions, these numbers can result in significant hits to an operator's bottom line. 

Devendra Sharma's blog on Green base stations cites the small but growing use of alternative energy as a potential solution, but are there other, more comprehensive ways to reduce the energy needed to power Mobile networks?  Or will operators need to examine each component of their networks separately to determine the most effective way to reduce costs while maintaining service?  What other solutions are out there and how should equipment vendors respond to this growing need on the part of their customers? 

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