Motorola and GSM Deploy Wind- and Solar-Powered Cell Site with MTC Namibia

Motorola, Inc. has deployed a wind- and solar-powered system to operate MTC Namibia’s GSM cell site at Dordabis village in the Khomas region of Namibia.

The trial with MTC Namibia supports the African operator’s strategy for increased voice and data service coverage in rural areas of Namibia and is the first of its kind globally. The powering of base stations using renewable energy sources expands health, educational and commercial benefits. “With the implementation of cell sites into more remote areas this Motorola solution provides us with an efficient and reliable alternative to the often costly roll-out of mains grid electricity,” said Albertus Aochamub, corporate services general manager, MTC Namibia. By incorporating renewable energy solutions into communication networks, Motorola is testing this solution as a feasible option for operators instead of using costly fuel generators or waiting long periods for a mains grid connection. The Dordabis cell site will remain a part of MTC Namibia’s live GSM network throughout the trial. Motorola has been working with the GSM Association on this project, which was announced at 3GSM Barcelona in February this year. “A key challenge in much of Africa is connecting people in off-grid locations and this project seeks to highlight to operators that wind and solar power is a real and cost effective alternative. We expect this pilot to become a showcase for the industry and to see replication of the model thereafter,” said Dawn Hartley, Development Fund manager at the GSMA. Once installed, the cost of power is almost zero, and wind and solar powered cell sites require minimal maintenance unlike a diesel driven generator, which generally requires, at a minimum, a monthly visit for refueling. This translates into added savings in operating expenditure (OPEX), a key factor to emerging market network operators.

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