Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and the GSM Association (GSMA) plan to expand a program that powers mobile base stations using biofuel to India and Bangladesh, a GSMA executive said Tuesday at the 3GSM World Congress Asia conference.
Next week, India’s Idea Cellular will announce its participation in the program, said Ben Soppitt, the GSMA’s director of strategic operatives. And more Indian companies could join the program. “We are talking to a number of Indian operators,” Soppitt said.
Talks are under way with Bangladesh’s GrameenPhone to use biofuel as well, but no date has been set for the start of a trial program there.
“We don’t have a concrete date for launching of biofuel, but we are working closely with GSMA,” said Erik Aas, GrameenPhone’s chief executive officer. “You will see this coming up pretty soon.”
Ericsson and the GSMA, an industry group composed of mobile operators, are working with operators in developing countries to power cellular base stations using biofuel produced from local agricultural products. The program is funded by the GSMA’s Development Fund and started in Nigeria, where operator The MTN Group last week announced it is experimenting with a biofuel-powered base station in Lagos.
Down the road, MTN plans to expand the use of biofuel-powered base stations to rural areas of Nigeria.
In many developing countries, electricity supplies are unreliable, forcing operators to use diesel-powered generators to run their base stations and keep their networks running. Switching to biofuel offers several benefits over diesel, including reducing pollution and supporting local farmers, who produce the pumpkin seeds and palm oil used to make biofuel, Soppitt said.
-Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service (Singapore Bureau)
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