Full-scale, traditional GSM networks use an enormous amount of power. Each Base Station requires 3-4000 Watts of power — before air conditioning is factored in.
In remote areas like rural India, there is either no electricity grid or it’s only available for a few hours each day. Diesel generators are used to fill the gap times, resulting in over 1.8 billion litres of diesel fuel being burned every single year in India alone.
And it takes even more fuel to bring the diesel fuel to each generator. The generators themselves are typically low quality and poorly maintained, resulting in replacement every two or three years — more waste, more greenhouse gas emissions.
Using sustainable energy sources is a prerequisite to reach underserved rural and remote communities. Microtelecom equipment must be energy efficient enough to allow for solar or wind power sources.
Want to learn more? “The Solar Imperative” (a white paper by Anders Hansson) is a good start.