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Solar Powered Cellular Networks: Good Idea, Expensive Security


ABI Research analysts say that the future of mobile telephony will be sun powered. They say all BTSes (cellular base stations) will be equipped with solar panels, backed up by diesel generators.

Such an experiment has already been started in Africa, but the solar panels have been stolen all the time. In relatively poor countries, there is a constant theft of copper wires, diesel fuel powering those equipments and generally, everything that can be stolen from these apparently deserted (although highly monitored) base stations.

ABI says that over 335 thousand solar powered base stations will be active by 2013, 40,000 of them being completely autonomous.

Where there isn’t so much sun all the time, there will be diesel generators available. This kind of investment in solar technology should increase the mobile operators’ profits, and a possible reduction in call prices, especially for developing countries. A not so recent UN figure says that half of the world’s population has never made a phone call, so this is the time for them to start by also being green. Fuel cells aren’t to be neglected in the run for clean energy in telecommunications. Hydrogen, as we know, has a very high energy density. Stealing it would be a little bit more difficult, though.

The only problem in these countries remains the protection of these investments, that also costs money. The base stations are so many that you can’t possibly cover all of them with 24/7 efficient theft protection, since solar panels are still expensive.

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