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November 28, 2007

Motorola Successfully Trials Solar, Wind Power to Run Cellular Base Station in Africa

By Calvin Azuri, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Motorola (News - Alert) recently completed trial of a wind and solar power system in southwestern Africa. The trail, conducted by the GSM Association at a cell site operated by MTC Namibia in the village of Dorbadis, in the Khomas region of Namibia.

Ali Amer, vice president of sales for Motorola’s Home and Network Mobility operations in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, explained that the trial is part of the company’s commitment to delivering solutions tailored to the needs of African telecom operators.
“We are pleased to work with MTC Namibia and the GSM Association and demonstrate how a combination of wind and solar power can be as effective as mains power in keeping cellular base stations running at peak performance,” Amer said in a statement. “In addition, the Motorola GSM solutions used needed minimal maintenance, which helped to reduce the cost and complexity of remote-area maintenance for operators.”
Amer added that Motorola has plans to continue working with local operators like MTC Namibia to develop practical and commercially viable solutions.
The trial was conducted during winter months to determine if the system would be efficient during periods when availability of wind and solar energy were at their lowest. A solar array and wind turbine were set up in May, and generated enough electrical power to run a mid-sized cell station with backhaul capabilities. The trial was successful, and Motorola said renewable energy solutions are now commercially available.
 “Operators are investing heavily in developing their infrastructure in the African continent and other developing regions, but achieving wide coverage can be a significant challenge when base stations are located in remote areas,” said Dawn Haig-Thomas, director of the GSMA Development Fund, in a statement.
Haig-Thomas continued: “Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar make it not only possible but also cost-effective for network operators to deliver mobile voice and data services in remote rural areas where mains electricity is either not available at all or prohibitively expensive. The successful conclusion of the trial with Motorola and MTC Namibia is exciting because it demonstrates to operators that they can break through one of the key barriers to expanding coverage.”
Although the MTC Namibia trial was conducted on a GSM network, the renewable energy solutions can be supported on other wireless networks with rural cell site power problems.

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Calvin Azuri is a contributing editor for TMCnet.


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