Telenor Pakistan Opts for Solar Power to Extend Services to Rural Areas

Telenor Pakistan can now cost effectively extends its network to untapped rural areas of the country. The mobile operator has signed a contract with Nokia Siemens Networks to build off-grid sites using energy harvested from the sun. Telenor Pakistan was the first cellular operator in Pakistan to have a site dependent on solar technology in January 2008.

“Expanding into rural areas is a challenge, as there is no access to the electricity grid to supply power to base stations. Traditional alternatives, such as diesel generators are neither environmentally-friendly nor cost-efficient,” said Khalid Shahzad, chief technology officer, Telenor Pakistan. “Nokia Siemens Networks not only offers a clean substitute, but will also reduce the cost of running these sites – allowing us to offer affordable communications to users in rural Pakistan.”

Under the contract, Nokia Siemens Networks will provide its off-grid site solutions that use solar energy to power base station sites in rural and remote areas. On a turnkey basis, NokiaSiemens Networks will design the sites, taking into account local solar mapping, site landscape and other factors to maximize the use of an abundant, clean, and natural energy source. NokiaSiemens Networks’ Green Energy Control will help deliver a sustainable solution while optimizing operating costs.

The solar-powered sites will be implemented using Universal Services Fund (USF) that was awarded to Telenor Pakistan in 2009. USF-based contracts aim to provide access to mobile services for underserved and unserved areas of Pakistan. Telenor Pakistan, till now, has been awarded three USF contracts for Mirpurkhas, Malakand and Bahawalpur region.

“It’s important that we connect the world in such a way that not only maximizes benefits for consumers and businesses, but also ensures the welfare of our planet,” said Saad Waraich, the Pakistan country director for NokiaSiemens Networks. “Providing communications to rural areas will become increasingly important and we believe renewable energy will be the first choice for such installations. In fact, the majority of base station sites installed by us by 2011 will use this form of energy. We are especially proud to partner with Telenor – a definite trend setter for the use of environmental technologies in network expansion.”

The GSMA has estimated that more than 75,000 new off-grid sites will be built each year through 2012 in developing countries. About 80% of the energy in a typical mobile telecommunication network is consumed by base stations. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power offer a reliable alternative to sites with limited or non-existent electrical grid access. NokiaSiemens Networks has already deployed more than 360 sites that exploit renewable energy and has over 25 years of experience in implementing solar-powered sites.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK