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24 04 Guest Editorial

ISSUE 9 2010

Thought Leadership

An exclusive interview with Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder and Chairman of VNL


Solar Powered Chargers

David Taverner Senior Programme Manager: GSMA

06 News

Making good progress

The latest local and global telecoms news.

16 Calendar

Upcoming events, shows and conferences which you can’t afford to miss.

18 Gadgets

Want the next big thing in portable devices? Our gadget review is here to help you choose.

58 Statistics

Africa Telecoms presents statistics and data relating to Green Telecoms. 2 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

is 30 Telecoms Going Green But not in a hurry

Everyone has to start somewhere By Lesley Stones

40 Green Data Centres

+ Green Networks = Green Telecom


Green TouchTM Initiative

Communication turns totally Green


Carbon-Free Calling

Green base stations will command the lion’s share of mobile telcos’ spend into the developing world over the next couple of years By Brett Haggard

Reducing 66 Power Q&A 52 Consumption In Optical Networks through Photonic Integration By Geoff Bennett

With Mats Vilander, General Manager of Zephyr Corporation

70 Job Listing

A list of the latest telecoms positions from across Africa

72 Last Word Twitter Followers vs Metro Pigs

FOR AFRICA TELECOMS Executive Editor Mohammed Khan Managing Editor Bradley Shaw Sales Director Sarah Theron Design Team: Alexander Flemming Hayley Davis Gretha Hanekom Sub-Editor Niki Sampson Printing Tandym Press Contributors: Lesley Stones, Brett Haggard, Sarah Theron, Mohammed Khan, Geoff Bennett, Steven Teitzel, Jouko Häyrynen Africa Telecoms and Africa Telecoms Online are published by: 3i Publishing Unit 9 & 10, Planet Art 2, 32 Jamieson Street, Cape Town 8001 T: +27 21 426 5590 E: BPA Worldwide Business Publication Audit, Membership Applied for – Oct 09.

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 3

Guest Editorial

David Taverner

Senior Programme Manager at the GSMA


those in Asia with the emergence of large scale deployments following extensive piloting. Orange illustrates this transition perfectly with the expansion from a handful of solar pilots in Senegal in 2007 to more than 900 base stations across 13 countries in 2010. In parallel to the entrance of the major telecoms vendors we are also seeing the emergence of specialist companies focused on the design of renewable energy systems for telecoms. An example of this is Winafrique Technologies, based in Nairobi, Kenya, that have deployed over 70 sites across Kenya . GSMA forecasts that by the end of 2012 an additional 160 million new Africans will own a mobile phone with over 75% of this expansion being rural customers in off-grid areas. This translates to a huge expansion in the deployment of off-grid base stations; over 150,000 according to GSMA estimates. With an individual site requiring over US$20,000 worth of diesel a year and a total diesel bill for the African off-grid sites of US$3 billion by 2012, market forces will drive innovation and scale in renewable energy networks. Coupling these crippling financials with the challenges and costs of transporting diesel in rural Africa, the GSMA expects renewable energy, and in particular solar power, to become the default choice to power African off-grid networks by 2012. Further information regarding the programme is available via the Green Power for Mobile website and our latest biannual report . AT

here was a time when mobile operators did not have to worry about the source of energy for their networks. All that mattered was an expanding subscriber base. Now they care a lot. With the total number of mobile phone connections in Africa approaching 500 million, or over 50% penetration, African operators are increasingly looking towards the rural regions (outside the reach of the electricity grid) for future subscriber growth. To date, diesel generators have been the default choice for off-grid base stations, but this has driven up energy costs to a point where some African operators are spending up to 40% of operating expenditure (OPEX) on energy bills. This is unsustainable. In 2008, GSMA identified that renewable energy base stations were the best way for operators to extend their networks off-grid while minimising energy costs and their impact on the environment. As a result, the Green Power for Mobile (GPM) initiative was launched. It has set a target of 118,000 off-grid base stations to be powered with renewable energy by 2012; a target which would represent over 20% of all off-grid base stations projected for that date. The programme is supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which is working to provide financing to support the operators’ implementation budgets. During 2008 and 2009, pilots were widespread but large scale deployments of more than 100 sites were rare. In 2010 we have witnessed operators gaining awareness of the cost saving opportunity and confidence in the reliability of renewable energy driving acceleration in the sector towards large scale deployments. The GPM Green Deployments Tracker is now hosting data from nearly 10,000 live sites; up from 1,500 last year. We have witnessed some operators converting huge numbers of sites to renewable energy, notably China Mobile with over 6,300 live sites. The mainstream telecoms vendors are also entering the market with ambitious goals; Anne Larilahti, Head of Environmentally Sustainable “ the total number Business at Nokia Siemens Networks, states “By of mobile phone 2011, our first choice to power these sites will be renewable energy”. Alcatel-Lucent has a goal to connections in “...develop a mass-produced alternative energy Africa approaching solution capable of being deployed to more than 500 million ” 100,000 wireless base station sites through 2012.” African operators are following a similar trend to

4 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

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NEWS Spio Garbrah to step down as Head of CTO Spio-Garbrah has, however, agreed to make himself available to offer The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commonwealth any newly-appointed CEO such ongoing advisory support as may be Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has necessary for him or her to discharge their duties effectively. given notice to the international governing Council of the CTO that Dr. Spio-Garbrah’s tenure at the helm of the CTO is credited with he intends to step down as CEO of the London-based international having transformed the CTO from a relatively little known international organisation in 2011 and will not seek another four-year mandate. body to one which today casts a long shadow across the global ICT space  Discussions about the CEO’s succession plan process was one of and has become a leader in promoting ideas several major agenda items at the just-concluded about how to link rural communities in Africa CTO Council meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from and elsewhere to the global ICT system. The 16-17 September 2010.  Other discussions on the CTO’s Annual Report for the 2009-10 operational agenda during the meetings included presentations period, which was also outdoored at the Colombo on the CTO’s current three-year Strategic Plan meeting, catalogues a long list of achievements approval, the operational and administrative of the Organisation over the past year. Dr. budgets for 2010-12, acceptance of the Auditor’s Spio-Garbrah’s tenure has seen a number of report for the 2009-10 financial year, appointment new member countries, including Rwanda of auditors for the next audit period, and the and Southern Sudan, join the organisation. approval of a time-table to establish a US$300 There was also an increase in CTO membership million Commonwealth Telecom Development by global telecom companies, such as Nokia, Fund which will assist Commonwealth countries to Ericsson, Blackberry inventor RIM, India’s improve their ICT infrastructures. 300,000 employee-base BSNL, and the joining  Dr. Spio-Garbrah was appointed to the top Dr. Spio-Garbrah was appointed as the of many ICT regulatory agencies.  Under Dr. international post in 2003 after a global search to CEO of the CTO in 2003 after a global Spio-Garbrah’s leadership, the CTO has been able which some 100 ICT experts from around the globe search to which some 100 ICT experts to fully purchase its own London headquarters responded. He is reportedly the first African to have from around the globe responded, building. The CTO has in recent years also won headed the Commonwealth Telecommunications and under the CTO’s constitution, he is a number of competitively-bid consultancy Organisation since its beginnings in 1901. Although eligible for re-appointment. contracts from the World Bank, UNICEF and other he is eligible under the CTO’s constitution to be agencies. The CTO has in the last two years created the African Universal re-appointed to another term, he decided to forgo another four-year Service and Access Fund Association (AUSAFA), of which the Ghana mandate in order, according to him, to devote time to God, family, Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) was elected a other business interests and politics in his home country, Ghana. He is Vice President at an annual meeting in Accra. currently a Vice Chairman of Ghana’s ruling NDC Party.  The CTO Council has instructed its Executive Committee to begin the  In a paper on a Succession Plan presented to the CTO Council by process for the recruitment of a replacement for Dr. Spio-Garbrah. Under Dr. Spio-Garbrah on behalf of the Executive Committee (ExCo) of the the CTO Constitution, the CEO must be selected by an internationally CTO, Dr. Spio-Garbrah explained that he considered it a mark of good competitive process with the assistance of an executive search firm. governance that leaders should be able to train and develop others to According to that Constitution, candidates for the post of the CEO and take over from them, or to make arrangements for their exit such that others can build on their efforts. Although a number of delegations from their governments must not lobby for the post, as candidates are to be member countries wished for Dr. Spio-Garbrah to reconsider his decision selected purely on merit and competence. A candidate whose country lobbies on his or her behalf stands to be disqualified from the process, or to explain his motives further, the CEO held to his position that it was the Constitution states. AT time for the Organisation to begin the search for his replacement.  Dr.

>>Telecom industry was responsible for 245 mega-tonnes of carbon equivalent (Mt CO2e) in 2009>>


Issue 9

NEWS Mobile tower deals are expected to significantly pick up in Africa in the next 12 months with high value at stake for many players Delta Partners, the leading specialized telecoms advisory and investment firm released its latest White Paper, titled “Tower assets in Africa: Move now before it’s check-mate” – the publication discusses the current landscape of tower assets across Africa and the significant value potential from sharing and selling. Africa has yet to see sizeable pan-regional tower carve-outs mainly due to operational challenges and deal complexities. However, significant activity in the space brought about a number of smaller deals in 2010 across several markets and the continent’s major operators (e.g. Bharti, former Zain Africa) are on the verge of pushing ahead with their tower strategies. The tower space in Africa is attracting significant interest not only from operators attempting to improve their bottom line but also from tower companies such as Bharti-Infratel, Helios, Eaton Telecom, IHS, American Towers and from equity investors such as Soros Strategic Partners and RIT Capital Partners. All this interest creates an impetus for action. “Operators must follow Tigo (Millicom) path and act soon or risk being left out in the cold with assets whose value is declining and with a higher cost base than competitors. Once the large tower deals in any given market are executed, the value of the remaining towers in the market tends to drop dramatically. Thus, seizing a first mover’s advantage translates into favourable valuations”, says Joao Sousa, Partner. In several countries, the need for new antennas is still high as rollouts are underway to satisfy capacity requirements, 3G coverage and rural expansion.

Africa has yet to see sizeable pan-regional tower carve-outs mainly due to operational challenges and deal complexities. These factors contribute towards the attractiveness of tower deals at large. ‘The business rationale for tower deals is still valid as a means of improving operators’ profitability and extract value. The question is how much value is there, for whom and how to extract it?’ says Dimitris Lioulias. ‘The value potential is different for mobile players, tower companies and equity investors – as should their game plan be.’ ‘We believe there is still significant value in the African tower space for specialized players with strong relationship with the key Operators – Tower Companies which main value proposition for the “tower seller” is overpaying for the towers will likely destroy investors value’, concludes Joao Sousa. ‘However, assessing the potential of each market is not always straight forward and every aspiring tower company needs to carefully assess the market’s ‘addressable demand’ and ‘accessible supply’, whilst realising that the market size alone is not what will drive returns, instead achieving greater scale is the best guarantee for success.’ AT

Telefonica acquires 50% stake in BRASILCEL from Portugal Telecom According to reports, Telefonica, S.A. has acquired a 50% stake in BRASILCEL, N.V., a Netherland-based provider of telecommunication services, from Portugal Telecom, SGPS, S.A. (PT) for EUR 7.5 billion. Telefonica is the Spain-based integrated operator in the telecommunication sector, providing communication, information and entertainment solutions, while PT is a communications service company engaged in the provision of a range of telecommunications and multimedia services. Telefonica will pay the amount by deferred payment of 40%

of the price agreed. The company will pay EUR 4.500 billion at the closing of the transaction, an additional amount of EUR 1.0 billion on December 31, 2010 and the remaining EUR 2.0 billion on October 31, 2011. The transaction is expected to close within 60 days. AT

"Telefonica will pay the amount by deferred payment of 40% of the price agreed.”

>> It is predicted that renewable energy will power 4.5 per cent of the world’s mobile base stations by 2014 >>

Issue 9



>>Google now operates 35 data centres worldwide, including 19 in the US, 12 in Europe, 1 in Russia, 1 in South America and 3 in the Asia Pacific. >>


Issue 9


RIM Unveils The BlackBerry PlayBook Research In Motion (RIM) has redefined the possibilities for mobile computing with the unveiling of its new professionalgrade BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet and BlackBerry® Tablet OS. The BlackBerry PlayBook is designed to give users uncompromised web browsing, true multitasking and high performance multimedia, while also providing advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a breakthrough development platform for IT departments and developers. We wait to see whether the PLAYBOOK is truly a game-changing product in the growing tablet marketplace, and competitor to the iPAD. “RIM set out to engineer the best professional-grade tablet in the industry with cutting-edge hardware features and one of the world's most robust and flexible operating systems,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion. “The BlackBerry PlayBook solidly hits the mark with industry leading power, true multitasking, uncompromised web browsing and high performance multimedia.” The tablet is ultra portable, ultra thin and super convenient for both work and play. Measuring less than half an inch thick and weighing less than a pound, the BlackBerry PlayBook features a vivid 7” high resolution display. At its heart, the BlackBerry PlayBook has the possibility to be a multitasking powerhouse. It is powered by a 1 GHz dualcore processor and the new BlackBerry With support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1, Adobe® Mobile AIR® and HTML-5, the BlackBerry PlayBook can give a high-fidelity web experience and the ability to enjoy all of the sites, games and media on the web.

The BlackBerry PlayBook also features premium multimedia features to support high-quality mobile experiences. It includes dual HD cameras for video capture and video conferencing that can both record HD video at the same time, and an HDMI-out port for presenting one's creations on external displays. The BlackBerry PlayBook also offers rich stereo sound and a media player. For those BlackBerry PlayBook users who carry a BlackBerry smartphone, it will also be possible to pair their tablet and smartphone using a secure Bluetooth® connection. This means they can opt to use the larger tablet display to seamlessly and securely view any of the email, BBM™, calendar, tasks, documents and other content that resides on (or is accessible through) their smartphone. They can also use their tablet and smartphone interchangeably without worrying about syncing or duplicating data. This secure integration of BlackBerry tablets and smartphones is a particularly useful feature for those business users who want to leave their laptop behind. The BlackBerry Tablet OS is built upon the QNX® Neutrino® microkernel architecture, RIM intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future.

"RIM set out to engineer the best professional-grade tablet in the industry with cutting-edge hardware features and one of the world's most robust and flexible operating systems”

>>Ericsson has installed such 300 green sites in remote areas and they are hoping this number will surge in 2010.>>

Issue 9


NEWS "With more connections into Africa than any other wholesale carrier we bring considerable strength to this partnership”

Altobridge and Gateway Communications Join Forces

to Provide Cost-effective and Green-powerenabled Mobile Connectivity for Remote African Communities

Mike van den Bergh Gateway Communications CEO

Altobridge, a leading supplier of GSM solutions for remote areas, and Gateway Communications, the leading supplier of pan-African telecommunications services, have entered into a joint sales and marketing initiative. The agreement will see each participant effectively promoting each other’s complementary portfolio, and follows successful trials of the Altobridge lite-site™ with Gateway’s Africa CellDirect services. CellDirect is Gateway Communications’ new bandwidth-efficient, Demand Assigned Multiple Access (DAMA) VSAT solution, a major element of the company’s extensive African network and voice connectivity offerings. The Altobridge lite-site is part of the Altobridge remote communications portfolio, which has been deployed with leading MNOs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Altobridge CEO, Mike Fitzgerald, said, “Gateway’s satellite services offer an extremely bandwidth-efficient solution complementing our pole-mountable, low-

bandwidth and low-power-consumption solution. The combination of the two will be hard to beat in terms of the total cost of ownership for any MNO deploying mobile services to remote communities and enterprises. MNOs can turn to this partnership as an effective one-stop-shop for all their remote communications requirements, knowing they will end up with the most capable and cost-effective solution-set available in the market today.” Mike van den Bergh, Gateway Communications CEO, said, “With more connections into Africa than any other wholesale carrier we bring considerable strength to this partnership, and Altobridge’s solutions keep our customers’ costs and satellite bandwidth usage to an absolute minimum. “It makes complete sense,” van den Bergh continued, “to combine our strengths and for Gateway Communications to recommend the Altobridge lite-site to MNOs who adopt and use our Africa CellDirect VSAT services, but who have yet to find the right technologies for their remote sites.” AT

Twitter founder Evan Williams

steps down as CEO

Evan Williams, who has headed the company since 2008, is being replaced to allow him to focus on ways of making Twitter more profitable and will be replaced by the current COO, Dick Costolo. Twitter has grown dramatically, with user numbers now topping 160 million, compared with three million two years ago. But Williams said that in order to continue to be successful, the company now needed to start converting that growth into profit. AT >>The ICT industry accounts for 2% of global carbon emissions >>


Issue 9

NEWS eLearning Africa 2011: Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability

Over 40 per cent of Africa's population is younger than 24 years old.

The eLearning Africa conference opens its Call for Papers; Suggestions for the programme can be submitted until December 10th. The eLearning Africa Conference in 2011 will focus on young adults in Africa. With the spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability, Africa's leading conference on ICT for development, education and training will explore and discuss the vast reservoir of talent, skills and opportunity among Africa's youth, also looking into the challenges they face on the job market. Over 40 per cent of Africa's population is younger than 24 years old. One hundred and ninety-eight million Africans, 20 per cent of the continent's population, are aged between 15 and 24 - the largest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. Children under the age of 15 account for another 20 per cent. eLearning Africa has opened its call for papers and is inviting education professionals from Africa and beyond to submit their best practices. The conference will take place from May 25th - 27th, 2011, in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. AT



Portugal supports ITU’s Connect a School, Connect a Community Initiative Portugal’s eSchool programme to provide laptops to schools in developing countries ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré and Mr Paulo Campos, Vice-Minister for Public Works, Transport and Communications of Portugal, signed an agreement that Portugal, through its eSchool International programme, will provide comprehensive technological solutions for schools in a number of interested countries as part of ITU’s Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative. The agreement was concluded yesterday in Lisbon, Portugal. This announcement follows through on a commitment made by Portugal during the ITU World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF), in Lisbon in April 2009. Some twenty countries will benefit from this first phase, with the initiative supporting the launch of one connected school project per country. Each project will test innovative approaches using ICT in the classroom, measure the impact, showcase the benefits and share lessons learned.

The assistance to participating countries will include: • New laptops (up to a maximum of 50) for a group of students and teachers in one school per country • Laptops equipped with software and educational content • A smart board in each classroom, connected to the laptops to facilitate interactive e-learning • Wireless modems along with a school server • Broadband internet connectivity provided by the local partner A multi-partner, international group of experts will support project implementation, including the development of a national school connectivity plan. “This is more than a technical project,” said Mr António Mendonça, Minister for Public Works, Transport and Communications of Portugal. “It is about cultural and social transformation, and our aim is to put ICT at the service of education so that people throughout the world can have access to it.” Portugal’s eSchool International is an initiative that acts as a major engine for promoting broadband internet access as well as the e-inclusion of students, teachers and citizens in general. Portugal aims to help participating countries experience the benefits of integrating ICTs in schools, making information and knowledge available for learning activities. The Portuguese Government has assigned the overall management of the e-School International programme to

Fundação para as Comunicações Móveis (Foundation for Mobile Communications). ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré congratulated the Government of Portugal for its leadership and willingness to share its experience with other countries. Highlighting the importance of connecting schools, Dr Touré said, “We are on the edge of an exciting new frontier. With the help of broadband-supported applications in schools, we now have the chance to bring information and knowledge to children all around the world. This gives me great optimism for the future.” He added, “Portugal’s eSchool International programme complements and reinforces ITU’s global strategy for e-learning.” Connect a School, Connect a Community is a public-private partnership launched by ITU to promote broadband Internet connectivity for schools in developing countries around the world. Connected schools can provide ICT access and education to children and youth as well as their communities, serving as community ICT centres for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, including women and girls, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. Together with partners, these centres will leverage ICTs to improve the economic and social development of their communities by providing ICT-based training on basic life skills (language literacy, numeracy and basic ICT literacy) along with training that develops business and ICT-specialized skills. The Connect a School, Connect a Community online platform provides a range of resources and promotes understanding and awareness among government decision makers, donors and partners on the need for coordinated policies, regulations and practices that promote school connectivity and community benefits. This includes assisting interested governments in developing their own national school connectivity plans. AT

"Connect a School, Connect a Community is a public-private partnership launched by ITU to promote broadband Internet connectivity for schools in developing countries around the world. "

>>Communication Service Provider’s in emerging countries will incur a $14.6 billion diesel bill for powering off-grid base stations in the year 2012 >>




“As the world becomes increasingly mobile, the ability to easily connect becomes more vital,”

Joins African Telecommunications Union Membership will Foster the Development of Information and Communication Technologies in Africa Qualcomm Joins African Telecommunications Union Membership will Foster the Development of Information and Communication Technologies in Africa. African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and Qualcomm have announced that Qualcomm has joined the ATU as an associate member.  The Company will work together with the ATU’s 18 other associate members and 46 members toward harmonizing policies and regulations for information and communications technology (ICT) development in Africa.   ATU plays a central role in the promotion of telecommunications, bringing together influential representatives of the government and industry to exchange ideas, knowledge and technological expertise for the benefit of the continent.  As an associate member, Qualcomm has the opportunity to actively participate in ATU activities, as well as add their voice to the Union as it makes important and valuable contributions to the telecommunications developments that will reshape the continent and the world at large.  “Qualcomm’s associate membership in ATU enables them to join a multi-national, pan–African community from government and industry,” said Akossi Akossi, secretary general of the African Telecommunications Union.  “This public-private collaboration provides invaluable opportunities to share ideas and knowledge as we work towards the common goal of

dramatically increasing the development of Africa’s information and communication infrastructure.” “As the world becomes increasingly mobile, the ability to easily connect becomes more vital,” said Dr. Hamadoun Toure, secretary general of the ITU.  “As the regional interface of the International Telecommunication Union, ATU is a key force in driving the development and deployment of advanced wireless technologies and services in Africa.  I look forward to Qualcomm’s participation and contributions to this vital organization.”  “Qualcomm is pleased to join ATU and looks forward to enhanced and ongoing collaboration,” said Elizabeth Migwalla, Senior Director of Government Affairs for Qualcomm.  “Telecommunications is an important aspect of African economic development and we are excited to play a part in the advancement of mobile broadband communications in Africa."

"As the world becomes increasingly mobile, the ability to easily connect becomes more vital,” said Dr. Hamadoun Toure, secretary general of the ITU.expertise for the benefit of the continent"

>> KDDI projects savings between 2006 and 2011 of 16% in both emissions and energy costs>>


NEWS EU ICT firms agree to reduce electricity consumption Sixteen more European ICT companies have agreed to reduce the electricity consumption of their broadband equipment and data centres at the 'ICT 2010-Digitally Driven' event in Brussels. Of these, 10 companies have signed the EC code of conduct on broadband equipment bringing the number of ICT companies which have done so to a total of 20, while 6 new companies signed the code of conduct on data centres and joined the 26 participants (with 42 data centres) which are currently registered. The ten companies (both telecom operators and manufacturers) that have

already signed the code of conduct on broadband equipment cover about 25 million broadband lines in the EU (27%). With 10 new companies signing up, the coverage will raise to 65 million in the EU (72%) plus 10 million more in Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Although a voluntary measure, 36 of Europe's biggest ICT companies already apply the codes of conduct, which are managed by EC's Joint Research Centre (JRC). According to the EC, ICT equipment's electric power consumption and CO2 emissions could double by 2020 in the EU. The codes' aim is to reverse this trend. At present, ICT

equipment and services consume over 8 percent of electrical power in the EU and produce about 4 percent of its CO2 emissions. Data centres account roughly for 18 percent of the ICT sector's energy consumption and they are expected to grow faster than any other ICT technology. Across Europe, they consume about 56 TWh of electricity per year. Whilst the codes of conduct address the energy efficiency challenge regarding broadband and data centres, the ICT4EE Forum is looking at the overall energy and carbon footprints of the sector.

Microsoft for End-to-End Unified Communications Polycom expands relationship to include unique, natively integrated Polycom solutions and coordinated go-to-market initiatives for Microsoft unified communications Polycom, Inc. has signed a multi-year, strategic global agreement with Microsoft Corp. to deliver integrated end-to-end unified communications (UC) and to improve customers’ business productivity. Under the agreement, Polycom plans to develop and market standards-based UC solutions that span the enterprise, small-to-medium business, and government markets, that will encompass software, hardware, networking and services, and will enable customers to improve business productivity and reduce travel, telecom and IT operating costs. The companies’ strategic agreement is a major step towards streamlining communications across messaging, video and voice with connected applications and devices.   “Microsoft and Polycom are committed to a roadmap that will deliver interoperable UC solutions with choice and innovation in video conferencing and customer devices that will help transform enterprise communications,” said Danie Gordon, Productivity Solutions Manager at Microsoft South Africa. “By integrating video, voice, instant messaging and conferencing solutions, Microsoft and Polycom give customers the ability to be present, anytime, anywhere.” AT

The companies’ strategic agreement is a major step towards streamlining communications across messaging, video and voice with connected applications and devices.

>> Gartner estimates that in 2015, 50% of all network emissions will be accounted for by mobile infrastructure >>


NEWS aNd fiNally,

iN a galaXy NoT So far far aWay… For all Star Wars fans out there, Verizon Wireless announced that the highly anticipated limited edition DROID™ R2-D2™ by Motorola will soon be available online and in select Verizon Wireless Communication stores. Although not available in Africa, the DROID is worth watching out for. With a graphic design to look like the iconic Astromech Droid from the Star Wars™ Saga, the DROID™ R2-D2™ will be packaged in a custom box resembling carbonite and comes with a Star Wars media dock and wired stereo headset. Exclusive content comes pre-loaded on the special edition smartphone, include:

• r2-D2 notification sounds and ringtones • four live wallpapers • r2-D2 Clock Widget • "The Best of r2-D2" video with the original Cantina music • exclusive Binoculars App To also celebrate 30 years since the film hit theaters, customers with Android devices running Android 2.1 or higher will soon be able to get the Empire Strikes Back app from Android Market™. The app, once again, only for Verizon Wireless customers, allows Jedi Masters to browse, preview and download Star Wars content related to Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. AT

the star wars Mobile aPP will have the following featUres and content: • Bounty Hunt Visual ID: Capture images around the Star Wars universe • Sound and Photo Gallery • Live Wallpapers: • Blast the Probe Droid • Luke Balancing Yoda • Navigating the Asteroid Field • Watch Bespin's Cloud City • Trivia Challenge: Trivia questions about The Empire Strikes Back • Widgets

>> Mobile >> Deployment Banking Clients of smart forecast cooling to grow infrastructure from 55 million could cut users down in 2009 consumption to 894 million by 35%>> in 2015>>





13-14 25-28 26


10 17-18 30


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feb 01-01 11-17



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16 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

2010 AITEC Africa

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If you would like Africa Telecoms to add an event to the calendar, please contact Mr. Bradley Shaw at:

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 17


There’s always something new and exciting in the digital consumer world - Africa Telecoms takes a look at what’s hot this month. H Uncool HH Poor HHH Average HHHH Excellent

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Price: TBA Rating: HHHHH NEED TO KNOW • 3G network support • Optical trackpad • High-resolution touchscreen • Full QWERTY keyboard The latest smartphone from BlackBerry sees the amalgamation of touchscreen functionality with the total convenience of a full QWERTY keyboard, resulting in a robust slide phone. So what’s different about this BlackBerry? The touchscreen slides up on a nearly invisible metal track to reveal the beloved BlackBerry QWERTY down below. Happily, there’s more to this BlackBerry than just a touchscreen/sliding keyboard combo – there’s the all-new BlackBerry Operating System version 6, too that delivers a proper touchscreen experience. The BlackBerry is the ultimate communications device: the push e-mail functionality is a beautiful thing, BlackBerry Messenger is addictive, and support for IM apps and social networking apps means there are a million and one ways to stay in touch using your BlackBerry, least of which is the call and texting functionality. There’s an Organiser, Documents To Go and a variety of other useful functionalities that make this BlackBerry the perfect device for the serial multi-tasking communicator.

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HHHHH Died and gone to heaven

Skullcandy HESH headphones Price: R600 Rating: HHH NEED TO KNOW • 50mm drivers with sound-boosting parabolic ear-cups • Over-the-head wearing style • In-line volume controls • 1.2-metre cable length An edgy blend of style and functionality, these Skullcandy HESH headphones deliver a personal audio experience that’s sure to please the average iPod-loving teenager, but not ideal for the business user. With their 50mm high-octane power drivers that pump sound into your skull, the HESH headphones are nice and loud. These ‘phones come with a travel bag and because of a 3.5mm audio jack, you can plug them into just about anything – a PSP, iPod, iPhone, MP3 player or laptop, and with a 1.2-metre cable, you’ve got room to groove. The in-line volume controls add a layer of convenience, letting you set the music player’s volume quite high and manage the headphone volume a little easier. Sound quality is good, with the notable ability to play music at high volumes with no distortion whatsoever. They are not particularly wonderful at blocking out external sound, though, so anyone in close proximity can also hear your music if the volume is set high enough. The upside to this is you’re not completely sealed off from the real world, and can respond to environmental sounds if needed.


Samsung i9000 Galaxy-S Smartphone Price: R5 300 Rating: HHHH NEED TO KNOW • Powered by a 1GHz processor and Android 2.1 • 4” SuperAMOLED capacitive screen with multi-touch • New Touchwiz 3.0 Interface For some time now, electronics companies have sought to create a smartphone worthy of the title “iPhone-killer”. The iPhone is seen as the be-all and end-all of style, sophistication, functionality and user-friendliness, and as such it has proven to be a hard act to follow, nevermind beat at its own game. Samsung’s new i9000 Galaxy-S smartphone looks like it might well have what it takes to challenge the iPhone’s total domination of the yuppie market, starting with looks. While similar to the iPhone design, and still a wee bit thicker than the iPhone 4, the Galaxy-S is an astounding 9.9mm thick and boasts a large 4” SuperAMOLED screen. This screen is multitouch enabled, which, in conjunction with the capacitive touch support, means smooth, responsive interactions with the phone. The Galaxy is powered by Google’s Android operating system (version 2.1) and a powerful 1GHz processor and it’s also packed with cool technology like a high-quality 5MP camera, 16GB of built-in storage with room for SD cards if that isn’t enough, a GPS application and an accelerometer that keeps the phone aware of how it’s being held. Phone calls are crystal clear, reception is excellent and using the on-screen keyboard to send SMSes or type e-mails (which the phone supports as well) is a real pleasure.

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Seagate GoFlex Desk 3TB External Drive Price: R3 000 Rating: HHHHH NEED TO KNOW • The first 3TB external drive, ever • Modular design separates drive from docks • Choose between USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and FireWire 800 Seagate is breaking new ground with its brand-new external hard drive, the GoFlex Desk. First, it’s a three-TERABYTE drive – to you and me that’s three thousand GIGABYTES, a truly gargantuan amount of space. Second, its design is completely modular – the GoFlex Desk 3TB comes with a separate docking station that provides connectivity to your PC or Mac, and there are several versions of this docking station, each supporting a different kind of connection. The first and most common connection method uses the established USB 2.0 standard, with its regular (read: unimpressive) transfer speeds. The second is USB 3.0, a brandnew upgrade to the old USB standard that brings hugely improved transfer rates to the table. On a drive this big, that improvement is critical if you’re expecting to transfer massive files – and with 3TB at your disposal, who wouldn’t? In short, the GoFlex Desk 3TB offers an astounding amount of storage space for the price, and its multiple connection methods allow you to buy the configuration that suits your need for speed (or lack thereof ) – and really, there’s no such thing as too much storage space, is there?


Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera PRiCE R7 000 PRiCE: RATiNG: RAT A i AT HHHHH

Microsoft Xbox 360 Slimline 250GB

NEED TO KNOW • Nikon’s newest entry-level 14.2MP DSLR • First Nikon DSLR to shoot full HD movies • New EXPEED2 image processor


The Nikon D3100 DSLR camera is an improvement on its predecessor (the mighty D3000) in every way, starting with an impressive 14.2MP resolution and a brand-new image processor Nikon calls the EXPEED2. This new processor promises to improve things like skin tone, ensure stunning colour reproduction and improve on what the big boys call “tonal gradation” – the noticeable differentiations between shades of any given colour. There are also two features never-before seen in an entrylevel Nikon DSLR camera – Live View and the ability to shoot full 1080p High Definition video. While these make the D3100 stand out from the crowd even further, the camera still has more tricks up its sleeve. Chief among these is the inclusion of a ‘Guide Mode’, a built-in set of tutorials that not only walk new users through the camera’s features, but also provide examples of how images will look when the various settings are applied. As always, there are multiple scene selections, an automatic selection setting, a face autofocus feature, electronic image stabilisation and a ton of other functions that can be used to capture the perfect picture. Guide Mode is the best way to learn all about each and after a few weeks spent in its company, it’s fair to expect that you’ll be able to set the camera on your own to capture great pictures regardless of the circumstances. The D3100 comes with an AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm VR lens that has built-in full-time autofocus for shooting movies, meaning your clips will always be razor-sharp. Truly a great entry-level DSLR camera.

NEED TO KNOW • Redesigned Xbox 360 console • Much slimmer and better-looking than the original • Comes with a 250GB hard drive and built-in wireless networking It’s taken a few years, but Microsoft has finally brought to market a version of the Xbox 360 that addresses many of the complaints levelled against the original 360. The new one is slimmer, lighter, quieter and comes with the kind of hardware sorely lacking from the original, namely built-in wireless networking and a generous 250GB hard drive. Now, almost everything you need for a very good consoleowning experience is in the box. HD TV owners will need to grab an HDMI cable, though, as this is the only omission from a truly complete package. The new, slim 360 now ships with a wireless black controller, a big step up from the wired controller of yesteryear. It takes two AA batteries that last for around 30 hours of gameplay, and the absence of wires will make anyone who tripped over controller wires before very happy. We have it on good authority that a South African version of the excellent Xbox Live service will be launched in November 2010. As such, now is a brilliant time to grab an Xbox 360 and join in the fun.

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Packard Bell Easynote LX86 Notebook Price: R13 000 Rating: HHHHH NEED TO KNOW • Very thin but powerful notebook • Stylish silver finish gives the notebook a classy look and feel • Powered by an Intel Core i7 mobile processor • Windows 7 Premium Home 64-bit Packard Bell recently released two high-spec, powerful notebooks into the local market - the LX86 and TX86. Both of these notebooks have hardware that most enthusiasts would sell body parts for, looks to make supermodels jealous and, best of all, they are incredibly thin and boast a respectable battery life courtesy of a nine-cell battery. Doing display duty is a very large, widescreen 16:9 LED monitor. Powering the viewing/user experience is a fantastic combination: Intel’s Core i7-740QM mobile processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The Core i7 in use here is one of the fastest available for notebooks and it delivers brilliant application and Windows responsiveness and the ability to perform processor-and-RAMintensive tasks like video and photo editing quicker. Driving your gaming experience on the LX86 is ATI’s surprisingly powerful Radeon HD5650 graphics processor unit, which comes with 1GB of dedicated video memory so you can run many games – including brand-new ones – at decent quality settings without losing out on smoothness. The LX86 has a massive amount of storage on which to save all of your data – it has two 500GB hard drives built in for a total capacity of 1TB. In all, this is a mightily impressive effort from Packard Bell and you’d do well to give the LX86 more than just a once-over.

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Samsung Wave S8500 Price: R6 000 Rating: HHHHH NEED TO KNOW: • First phone to have the bada operating system • TouchWiz 3.0 supports multi-touch navigation • Slick interface with social media integration for contacts • First phone to sport SuperAMOLED display The Samsung Wave is finally here. This top-notch smartphone is the dazzling debut of Samsung’s proprietary operating system, bada, and it’s crammed to the hilt with high-end features like HD video recording, a 1GHz Hummingbird processor and the latest SuperAMOLED screen with multi-touch support. As is the trend with smartphones these days, it’s all about the touch-ability. This phone uses Samsung’s TouchWiz 3.0 overlay, which takes intuitive, responsive navigation to a whole new level. You’ll be dazzled by the SuperAMOLED screen with its high-res 480x800 WVGA display and youou’ll be more than impressed by its great viewing angles, crisp colours and intense contrast. And yes, there’s all the things that put the ‘phone’ in ‘smartphone’ – calling and text messaging is a breeze – calls are crisp and loud, and the predictive text is useful for snappy messaging. Even more impressive is the video capability of the Wave, which allows you to shoot in 720p quality and at 30fps, which is completely unexpected on a mobile phone. The stills camera is equally impressive and there’s also a front-facing camera for video calling and you’re looking at some seriously good connectivity – 3G, EDGE, GPRS and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n so you’ll always be able to get on the web, access Google Maps and stay up-to-date with the latest in your social networks.

by Brett haggard

Empowering the Unconnected

24 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

Building networks where there’s no electricity, let alone existing backhaul capacity is challenging to say the least. Indian innovator, Vihaan Networks Limited has a solution however.

Issue 9 2010


Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder and Chairman of VNL says the solution additionally, has an operating expenditure (opex) of zero and that the capital expenditure of the solution is one fourth of a traditional GSM tower.


elecoms analysts from virtually every research company in the world agree that close to 90% of the users adopting mobile telecommunications over the next three to five years will come from the developing world. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that these analysts also believe that it’s not the urban areas within these emerging markets that telcos should be focusing their efforts on. The most rural parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America are in their opinion where the next big opportunity- close to 3bn people- resides.

Challenges abound Knowing where the biggest appetite for mobile telecoms services lives and actually delivering set of technologies or services customers in those markets can make use of, while still generating a healthy income and profit level for the telco is challenging to say the least. 25 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

So, while telcos have a clear idea of where they should be focusing, the obstacles involved in connecting the masses are weighty to say the least. The most pressing issue to overcome is the much lower average revenue per user (ARPU) the telcos have to contend with in rural – and generally – poorer regions. And where – depending on who you ask – developed countries have an ARPU well above the $30 mark per month, countries that are being targeted as the ‘next big thing’ have ARPUs in the $2 per month region. It goes without saying that this reality places major pressure on the networks from both a capital and an operating expenditure perspective. These customers being located in the most rural parts of the developing world also means that telcos can’t rely on a ready or reliable source of electricity to power their base stations. The GSMA estimates that some 3 billion people (half the world’s

population) live in rural areas not covered by a mobile network, that 1.6 billion of those people live without electricity and 1 billion live in areas with unreliable access to power. Diesel-powered generators are often employed to overcome this obstacle, but apart from the impact on the environment, the expense of running them mounts up. One report released during the course of last year stated that traditional mobile networks worldwide require 2 billion litres of diesel every year to power backup generators. In India, an emerging market where ready access to a realible electricity supply is a challenge at the best of times, the per capita diesel consumption is estimated at 23 litres. Out of this, seven litres are consumed by the mobile operators for towers.

Too good to be true? Launched last year and six years in development, Vihaan Networks Limited’s solar-powered GSM system could present the solution to all of these challenges. Designed to help mobile operators build sustainable and profitable networks in remote areas where ARPUs are as low as $2 per month, the solution – called WorldGSM – works on a solar panel and can run without being powered for three days. Rajiv Mehrotra, Founder and Chairman of VNL says the solution additionally, has an operating expenditure (opex) of zero and that the capital expenditure of the solution is one fourth of a traditional GSM tower. “Operators in developing countries are only skimming the surface of their market potential,” Mehrotra says. “At this point, mobile penetration and subscriber numbers in most major metros are at saturation level and the only way for operators to get new customers is to drop rates, offer better deals and poach from competitors,” he adds. This, quite obviously means these telcos need to look outside of urban markets. That said however, Mehrotra adds that

World GSM highlights Zero opex – made possible by major reductions in power consumption. Allowing for the use of solar power as the single energy source. No diesel generators are required.

Low capex – priced at less than traditional GSM base stations, making it profitable for operators even at very low population densities and ARPU levels.

Optimised for rural deployment and easy to transport. Compact and rugged, Caneven be transported on bullock carts.

Self-deploying and near-zero maintenance – can be installed in just six hours by two unskilled people.

Solar powered – requires only 50W–150W per base station compared to the 3000W required for traditional GSM. Each site can be powered by a 4-8m² solar panel, rather than the 200m² panel required to power a traditional GSM base station. Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 26

operators have been looking at ways to build a business case around connecting the 2.5 billion unconnected people in low income, isolated communities in rural and remote regions around the world for years now. “But, so far no one has been able to profitably construct networks based on low density usage where ARPUs are around US$ 2–3 a month,” he says. “That’s because operators are in business to make profit and they can’t afford to roll out networks if they can’t make money doing it,” he says. “The rural paradox has been that rates are too high when profit is factored in, and profit is nonexistent when rates are affordable,” he explains. All of this suggests that a new approach was needed. And this is exactly what VNL has strived for.

Designed for emerging markets “VNL provides an end-to-end, fully compatible mobile GSM system for rural and remote areas,” Mehrotra says. The same system brings broadband access that can run an Internet enabled device such as a smart phone, iPhone, Blackberry or a laptop. “There are no compromises in quality and service, only re-engineering to reduce network complexity, power consumption and to provide very cost effective backhaul,” he explains. “Traditional GSM was designed for high population density, high-ARPU urban markets and not for low population density, low-ARPU rural ones. In the rural scenario, it costs too much, is too expensive to run, uses too much power and is too difficult to deploy,” Mehrotra says. “As such, traditional GSM is a luxury that rural areas cannot afford,” he adds. “VNL’s WorldGSM technology has been specifically developed and reengineered to overcome the obstacles GSM faces with regards to viability in the developing world. “These include, the GSM equipment’s tendency towards huge power consumption, the often complex network topology associated with GSM networks, complex RF planning exercises, the lack or shortage of electricity in rural 27 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

areas, poor road infrastructure, the lack of engineering skill in rural areas and the lack or non-availability of backhaul capacity over long distances,” he says.

Plenty of buy-in It’s not surprising with challenges like this being easily overcome by the solution, that VNL’s key customers thus include mobile operators, infrastructure companies and system integrators. “Additionally, many government regulators in developing nations have expressed a keen interest in deploying this solution to connect the unconnected in rural and remote areas,” he says. VNL’s claims of the solution’s viability and success are well backed by real-world deployments. “Our base stations are installed in more than 100 villages in rural Rajasthan, India’s largest state. “And for the first time these rural communities have network coverage. Unlike traditional GSM base stations, the village sites need no shelter, air conditioning, mains power, generator or diesel fuel,” he explains. Furthermore, Mehrotra says that operators throughout Africa and South East Asia are also rolling out networks based on VNL’s technology. “Due to strict confidentiality agreements demanded by our customers we cannot give any names yet,” he says, “but we can talk about the fact that VNL’s solar-powered GSM base stations are being used to build ITU sponsored networks in South Asia.” These networks, he says, are being built as part of the ITU’s ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ initiative – a public-private partnership run by the ITU to promote broadband Internet connectivity for schools in developing countries around the world. Mehrotra says the VNL networks will provide both GSM and wireless broadband coverage to schools and villages in remote rural areas in South Asia - and will go live during Q4 2010.

Long tail strategy It’s not just telcos, regulators and industry bodies that are interested in

In 2009, VNL was honored with a second place in the CTIA Wireless E-Tech Awards’ ‘Green Network Hardware and Infrastructure’ category VNL’s solution though. In time, Mehrotra says it’s anticipated that local entrepreneurs will receive micro loans to finance WorldGSM base stations, in part or in full. “These entrepreneurs will deliver mobile services within their communities in partnership with mobile operators as part of the Microtelecom business model, which helps operators scale their rural businesses at maximum speed and with minimal exposure, while at the same time giving back to the rural community,” Mehrotra says. The popularity of VNL’s WorldGSM base stations rests firmly on the fact that the technology was expressly designed for areas where the largest potential lies. “VNL’s solution is optimised for rural areas through a unique Cascading Star Architecture,” Mehrotra explains. “By delinking coverage from capacity VNL is able to reduce wastage and provide very good signal quality where it is needed most - in the village,” he says. “The system furthermore integrates with existing GSM macro networks and extends them into previously unreachable rural areas. It is 3GPP compliant and compatible with all standard handsets,” he says. Mehrotra says that WorldGSM is the first solar powered GSM system that’s made for mass deployment in rural areas – unlike offerings from other vendors that retro-fit green power options to technology that was designed for the traditional base station space. “Our solution has the lowest energy consumption of any GSM system in the

world, which makes it viable to deploy in a large scale without any backup power. In the case of VNL the Village site has been designed to work with just 50W of power – no one has a solution with power consumption as low as this on the market. “This low power consumption means WorldGSM can provide upwards of 65 hours of safe operation with zero incoming power and upwards of 72 hours of safe operation during cloudy weather. “And installation is so simple that even local workers can do it,” Mehrotra adds. Mehrotra says that the differences in the design of WorldGSM and traditional base station equipment that has been adapted for ‘green’ are also evident in the price of the equipment. “VNL’s Village Site will cost less than US $20,000 and bears no opex. “By contrast, a traditional GSM base station is $100k before BSC and MSC costs are factored in,” he says.

Industry recognition VNL’s WorldGSM is testimony to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention – and that solutions designed for developing world conditions are often best designed in the developing world. For this reason it’s not surprising that it has gained the industry’s praise. VNL’s first accolade came during the 2008 World Communications Awards when it was recognised as the winner in the ‘Best Technology Foresight’ category. In 2009, VNL was honored with a second place in the CTIA Wireless E-Tech Awards’ ‘Green Network Hardware and Infrastructure’ category; named the

‘third most innovative company’ and the ‘most innovative telecoms company’ respectively in the Wall Street Journal’s 2009 Technology Innovation Awards; and chosen as a 2009 Top Pick and named as a company to watch in the wireless infrastructure market by Light Reading, a specialist telecoms analyst and publishing house. VNL’s crowning achievement in 2009 was however being named as a technology pioneer by The World Economic Forum. 2010 was another year of accolades. In February 2010 at the GSMA’s “Oscars of the telecoms world’ awards VNL’s base stations were recognised as the best green product and in July VNL was named as the overall winner in the 2010 South Asia mBillionth Awards’ ‘m-Business & Commerce’ Category. The innovation approach that VNL took in building its WorldGSM solution deserves all of the accolades it has garnered and it should serve as an inspiration to companies in other emerging markets that see an opportunity for change and are prepared to put in the hard work and dedication to get there. VNL’s success could also inadvertently be giving the market a glimpse into what the future looks like as the world’s telecoms players scramble to connect the next billion to three billion users, and aim to overcome some of the obstacles that lie in the way of that goal being achieved. As is the case with VNL however, the solutions that succeed might well come out of developing markets – and redefine the way the entire industry operates. AT Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 29

by Lesley Stones

The telecoms sector is going

green but not in any hurry


It was just over two years ago that I met my first green base station. It was at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where Ericsson was making a big fuss about going green. “You have to be seen to be green,” said Steve Barnett, Ericsson’s Head of Network and Technology Consulting. “And we can save people a lot of money.” The 40m-tall concrete tower wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but an imaginative operator could soon fix that with a funky lick of paint. The prototype base station was about to begin trials to see how well it met its promise of substantially lower running costs. Traditional base stations need a lot of power to feed signals from antennae at the top to transmission equipment at the bottom. This tower houses all the equipment at the top, eliminating the need to feed signals up and down. Nor does it need air conditioning, since it’s cooled by natural air flow, while batteries to power the equipment are buried to keep them cool. Numerous other operators and equipment manufacturers

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also claimed to be striving to save the planet. African operator Celtel boasted about being the first in the world to install hybrid base stations that combine a diesel generator and a bank of batteries, which take it in turns to power the equipment. Running on battery power halves the fuel bill and the diesel recharges the batteries, making them suitable for rural areas. China Mobile talked of buying solar and wind powered base stations to cut electricity consumption, because its base stations account for 73% of its fuel bill. China Mobile also collects and recycles dead batteries and old cellphones from its customers and rewards them with free airtime as part of its green campaign. Everyone was being very earnest and thoroughly caring, yet there was a definite sense that efforts to save the planet were ‘nice to have’, but certainly not a business imperative. Then Nokia lightened the mood a little by demonstrating a nifty clamshell handset dubbed the Remade, which it built from recycled cans, plastic bottles and car tyres. The hitch was its total inability to actually make or receive a call, but Nokia claimed it was working on that one.


A couple of years on, has very much really changed? Fuel bills are not only among the largest operating expenses for telecoms players, but their energy consumption is a growing culprit for greenhouse gas emissions. Faced with big bills and bad press about environmental damage, operators and equipment vendors are feeling the pressure to devise energy efficient networks and reduce their carbon emissions. Their efforts include using the wind and sun as renewable energy sources, seeking more energy efficient practices for data centres, and initiatives to recycle old equipment. The trend has undeniably garnered a lot of attention, as event organiser Informa staged a telecoms exhibition last year specifically focusing on saving money and saving the environment. The ICT industry accounts for 2% of global carbon emissions, and the conference examined how that impact could be reduced. Informa’s Global Green Telecom Summit was based on the growing interest in environmentally friendly strategies and the fact that reducing energy

consumption and deploying alternative energy solutions would greatly reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. Interestingly, Informa isn’t running a Green Telecoms summit again this year, presumably because going green still isn’t big enough to justify a dedicated exhibition. “The last green event was very interesting, but very few people were willing to put their money where their mouth is. Green telecoms has a much better chance of catching telcos’ attention if it is related to cost-efficiency,” said Informa Research Director Julie Rey. Research house Analysys Mason, part of South Africa’s Datatec group, has been studying the issue for a while. Senior Manager David Eurin reported back in 2009 that green initiatives designed to cut costs would survive, while publicityoriented smoke screens would disappear. Operators were keen to use the green factor to reassure investors during a recession that they were ‘doing something’, he said. “Being seen as green has been near the top of the corporate social responsibility agenda in the last few years, responding to

Issue 9 2010


"Being environmentally savvy is not only impacting the lives of individuals, but also affecting businesses in how they operate and their choice of business partners." - Konstantinos Tzingakis, Ericsson Director of Innovations (SA)

a surge in media coverage of environmental issues. Broadly worded mentions of ‘responsible behaviour’ and being ‘members of the community’ and aiming to make ‘a positive impact on social progress’ have been seen in company reports.


Those green policies had their value, however, as telcos were using environmental issues as a catalyst to cut their operational costs and drive efficiency. “Investment decisions will be tight, so we can expect that only those initiatives with a strong business case will be launched,” Eurin said. “There certainly seem to be opportunities to reduce costs. For example, France Telecom reported that about 50% of its energy bill comes from base station equipment.” In response, France Telecom was investigating solar panels, wind turbines, fuel cells and other alternatives to provide offgrid energy, cut costs, and reduce dependency on expensive and polluting diesel generators, particularly in the African countries where it operates its Orange networks. Companies also use a credit system based on the Kyoto Protocol to offset their carbon emissions. Although this is a quick way to become green on paper by obtaining a zero emission net balance, Analysys Mason says it can prove very costly for little immediate benefit.

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The system relies on a trading market organised by the United Nations, in which certified reductions in emissions can be bought from carbon projects set up in developing countries. Recently a telecoms company stated – off the record – that it would drastically reduce its use of this system because it cost too much, Eurin said. Analysys Mason is turning green initiatives into something of a speciality, by offering fixed and mobile operators a service to monitor, control and reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions, and to help them negotiate better deals with energy suppliers. Ericsson is still plugging away at its green initiatives with Konstantinos Tzingakis, its Director of Innovations in South Africa, saying environmental concerns are one of the most topical issues facing society. Being environmentally savvy is not only impacting the lives of individuals, but also affecting businesses in how they operate and their choice of business partners, he says. Telecom companies are playing a more significant role in the fight to address climate change, Tzingakis believes. That is being forced upon them by soaring energy prices, spurring telecom operators to scrutinise their environmental and social responsibilities and their energy bills. Although ICT accounts for just 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, it is estimated that their technologies have the potential to reduce emissions by up to 98% in some other sectors of the economy. Overall, ICT could help to cut emissions by about 15%, Tzingakis says, by allowing people to use resources more efficiently. Ericsson believes it has differentiated its products by developing energy efficient equipment and methods for network and site optimisation. Its WCDMA base stations are designed for energy efficiency and a power-saving feature has been developed to improve the energy efficiency of already installed GSM base stations. Such environmental initiatives have seen Ericsson earn a Green Company Award for innovation in China and be acknowledged as a Green Pioneer in Korea. “The telecommunications sector has a crucial role to play in meeting the challenges posed by climate change,” Tzingakis says. “To do this, telecoms providers and operators need to work together to create energy-lean products and production processes. More efficient technologies will reduce the amount of fossil fuels that operators need, as well as make it possible to use alternative sources of energy such as solar or wind power.” Being environmentally savvy is a hot point of discussion in the ICT industry, with everyone wanting to go green, says Dan Engel, the regional sales manager of Polycom. “Pressure is being placed on companies to use recyclable materials in the manufacturing of their products, as well as to properly dispose of unwanted or outdated equipment.”

Going green is not an easy transition, he says, but energy-efficient IT is high performance IT. Tough economic conditions have led to cost cutting and many businesses have halted their investments in green solutions. Yet becoming greener is still a key priority towards future sustainability. Polycom offers a range of communication solutions that reduce travel and promote greener business for all industries, and for its own operations too. Using video to train Polycom’s worldwide sales team will save an estimated 374 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, Engel says.


The core goal of green ICT initiatives, products and practices is to design, manufacture, use, and dispose of equipment efficiently and effectively with little or no impact on the environment. Specific goals are to reduce the use of hazardous materials, maximize energy efficiency during a product’s lifetime, and promote the recycling or safe disposal of defunct products. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published a global survey of more than 90 government and industry Green ICT initiatives that focus on the environment and climate change. The report concludes that initiatives tend to concentrate on the green technologies themselves rather than on their actual implementation to tackle global warming and environmental degradation. In general, only 20% of initiatives have measurable targets. So far the rules and regulations developed around green technologies concentrate on the IT sector, rather than the telecoms sector, with schemes such as Energy Star ratings and Climate Savers Computing Initiative in the US designed to reduce the power consumption of PCs. However, telcos may be affected by The Green Grid, a global consortium dedicated to improving energy efficiency in data centres and business computing systems. It was founded in 2007 by several key IT companies. Data centre facilities are booming as business data increases, and each houses a rising amount of powerful IT equipment. Their managers are running into limits related to power, cooling and space, and the rising demand has had a noticeable impact on the world’s power grids. Once a standard set of measurements is adopted by the industry, it will be easier for end-users to manage their facilities and equipment to achieve optimal energy efficiency. Few companies are enthusiastic enough to build their entire business case around environmental awareness, except for Green Telecom. This independent UK-based player supplies corporate clients with phone lines and telephone systems with its services carried over the

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL US? If it hasn’t, it is certainly expected to soon, because Pike Research predicts that investments in green telecom network infrastructure will touch $122 billion by 2014, representing 46% of telecoms capital expenditure. Of that, 63% will be for mobile networks. Pike’s report on Green Telecoms Networks published in July looks at the opportunities, technology requirements and environmental impact of green schemes. Asia Pacific is expected to lead the capex spending, followed by Europe. Global emissions reductions by then (compared with doing nothing) should reach 24%, with a 46% reduction from mobile networks. Up to 80% of an operator’s energy usage is absorbed by its networks, base stations and switching centres. But replacing them with renewable energy solutions carries a dearer upfront cost, so implementing greener equipment only becomes compelling if companies look at the total cost of ownership rather than the upfront fee. Yet if they are done well, green initiatives can provide major cost savings. Examples include using free and renewable energy sources, and remotely controlling equipment through an energy-saving on, off or idle switch. Even so, Pike Research believes that renewable energy will power only 4.5% of the world’s mobile base stations by 2014, and a higher but still unimpressive 8% in developing countries. At the moment renewable energy powers a negligible 0.11% of the world’s mobile base stations. That figure shows that for all the fine talk and fancy inventions, going green just isn’t happening yet. Pike Research also points out that there are many opportunities for fixed and mobile operators to reduce emissions from data centres, both in the design of the facilities and through server consolidation and virtualisation.

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 33


Ljubljana - SLOVENIA

Munich - GERMANY


London - ENGLAND

St Aston - AUSTRIA

34 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

All electrical waste, such as old telephone systems, is removed from its clients’ premises and disposed of in compliance with the European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives.

BT network. It promises to help organisations meet their Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) whilst saving them money, as it does not believe that going green should cost organisations more. Its carbon footprint is calculated and offset to a wind energy project in India that provides reliable, renewable power to the Rajasthan state electricity grid. That project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the grid’s dependency on fossil fuel-based electricity generation. Green Telecom also reuses or recycles all incoming packaging materials and minimises its use of paper. In August this year the company began a transition to paperless billing to enhance its green credentials. All electrical waste, such as old telephone systems, is removed from its clients’ premises and disposed of in compliance with the European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives. Its systems installation division runs a tree-planting programme to offset carbon emissions and encourage wildlife. Overall, its green procedures are designed to make all employees and suppliers aware of their actions and contributions that may impact the environment.


Simple telecoms initiatives that can contribute to going green include VoIP and phone extension mobility, which make hot-desking more practical. That allows companies

to operate from less office space, which reduces the cost of rental, heat and lighting. Although staff may resent not having a permanent desk of their own, companies may push for that because the average annual energy consumption for an office building is more than 23 kilowatt hours per square foot, with heat, air conditioning and lighting accounting for 70% of that, according to US studies. Another area where operators and network equipment manufacturers can play a major role is through teleconferencing, a technology that is often implemented as part of green computing initiatives. Holding virtual meetings instead of travelling reduces greenhouse gas emissions related to travel, although a more compelling reason for companies to adopt teleconferencing is to eliminate the time and money previously spent on travelling. That cost saving and the fact that staff are not losing productive time by being in transit are far more likely to sell the technology than appealing to a customer’s sense of environmental responsibility. And that’s it in a nutshell, really. Operators and suppliers alike are undoubtedly under pressure to highlight the efforts they are making for the good of the globe. Yet they are under even more pressure from their boards and shareholders to generate a profit. Since going green is initially an expensive investment offering only a longer-term payback, innovations that benefit the environment must first and foremost be able to prove that they also benefit the bottom line. AT

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 35

Solar powered chargers BY: Mr. Jouko Häyrynen CEO and co-founder of Suntrica


– making good progress

here are three industry initiatives that have been closely followed over the past few years. The first is the campaign to implement a crossindustry standard for a Universal Charging Solution (UCS) for new mobile phones. Of course, the idea is a no-brainer and eminently sensible for all consumers and it’s a shame that such slow progress is being made. As far as I know, not even the common DC plug connector has been widely deployed yet. The second initiative I have been tracking – and am involved with – is the GSMA’s Green Power for Mobile programme. The GSMA estimates that nearly 639,000 off-

36 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

grid base stations will be rolled out across emerging markets by 2012 and is aiming for 118,000 of these to be powered with renewable energy. And thirdly I have been tracking the progress of various low-cost handsets. Several manufacturers have attractivelooking, affordable products with excellent operating time. However, none of these initiatives will solve the problem of how the hundreds of millions of people in areas such as rural Africa - where there is little or no electricity - can charge up their phones. Indeed 25% of the world´s population have no reliable access to electricity and 10% have no access to electricity.

"In the meantime and thanks to solar chargers, the 1.6 billion people who have access to little or no electricity do have a reliable way to charge up their low-cost handsets. The investment needs for electricity grid are huge and to fulfill the need of power seems to be long catch up exercise. Today 60% of African population is enjoying cellular coverage and every new base station means more demand for off-grid demand to cellular subscribers."

This is a huge market that needs to be addressed by the handset manufacturers. In the meantime and thanks to solar chargers, the 1.6 billion people who have access to little or no electricity do have a reliable way to charge up their low-cost handsets. The investment needs for electricity grid are huge and to fulfill the need of power seems to be long catch up exercise. Today 60% of African population is enjoying cellular coverage and every new base station means more demand for off-grid demand to cellular subscribers. At last year’s AfricaCom the industry got excited at a couple of solar-powered phones on display from the likes of ZTE and Samsung. Beautiful and practical but with a major hurdle to widespread adoption in Africa: price and cost of ownership when you have to change the phone (and solar panel) every two to three years. And it’s not just price. Many industry observers talk about the willingness of people in rural Africa to share phones and swap in their SIM cards. However, this is not an ideal scenario. Far better to have reliable and affordable phones and a solar charger which can be shared amongst many people. In my mind, solar-powered chargers are the most practical way to power up a phone in Africa. A simple device

which is easy to use and can be shared amongst friends and neighbours. As well as phones, sun-charging small solar panels can serve to provide extra operating time for portable FM radios and small-scale LED lighting systems. The cost and efficieny of photovoltaic panels is improving. The new, innovative solar harvesting solutions will enable increasing numbers of portable and household electronic appliances to be solar-charged including laptops, TVs, water purification and heating, fans and coolers. Solar harvesting will also play an important role in hybrid energy systems. Solar, combined with small scale hydro power plants, wind energy and wave energy enables the use of renewable energy to become a viable option to easy to deploy but pollutive energy sources such as gasoline and diesel generators. The investment cost of renewable energy generation is declining rapidly through new innovation and economies of scale component manufacturing. The cost of maintenance is clearly in favour of renewable energy systems. One part of the ecosystem that needs improving is the storage of energy in batteries. Vendors are investing in the development of more sophisticated battery products. Economical (affordable) energy storage is a challenge that needs to be solved in any off-grid energy systems. AT

38 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010 Issue 8 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 27

Green Data Centres + Green Networks


Green Telecom C

By Steven Teitzel, Telecommunications Global Solutions Executive, IBM

40 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

ommunication networks are essential to the global economy. Few are unaware of the importance of broadband Internet and mobile connectivity to our business and personal lives. With nearly 4.5 billion mobile connections, 500 million fixed broadband connections and annual revenues of US$1.4 trillion, communications is a massive industry. According to the World Bank, private sector investment in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure topped US$20 billion from 1992-2005, and the number of African mobile phone users increased from 10 million in 2000 to more than 180 million in 2007. And according to the African Technology Development Forum, Africa has been the fastest-growing mobile market in the world during the past five years. Mobile telephony has a positive and significant impact on economic growth, and this impact may be twice as large in developing countries as in developed countries. The opportunities are tremendous, but so are the market and technology challenges. Indeed, telecommunications companies are among the biggest business entities in every country – and they leave one of the largest carbon footprints. Driven by increased broadband capacity in homes and offices, combined with new generations of smartphones, and coming waves of tablets, netbooks and machine-tomachine communications, network operators are experiencing incredible demand for connectivity and remote experience sharing. To keep ahead of this, operators are investing billions of dollars in network infrastructure and data centre facilities. Amid this backdrop, telecom service providers find themselves at the centre of the green revolution. Green sensitivities have emerged as a result of the significant rise of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere over the past 50 years. Many consider it the underlying cause for global warming. Growing awareness among policymakers, who are enacting stricter regulations, and consumers, who are modifying buying

habits and lifestyles, is driving changing corporate behaviours toward green. In response, public and private enterprises are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint, expand sustainability programs, and incorporate green sensibilities and attributes into their core marketing and sales strategies. At the simplest level, telecommunications operators face an environmental responsibility because they are among the largest business entities in every country. They maintain large fleets of commercial vehicles, they are one of the largest commercial real estate property holders, and they have thousands of mobile base stations and wireline switching centres scattered throughout the landscape. As leading blue chip companies with highly visible corporate profiles, telecom operators must take an active role in addressing climate change by providing solutions that address the environmental challenges and demonstrating they are reducing their own carbon footprint. In order to meet this goal, telecom operators have to quantify the impact of their investments and operations from both the business/economic and the environment perspective. A strategy to integrate profit improvement with sustainable business practices is critical for future success in the telecommunications business. This path is complex and multifaceted, but it is important to start the journey somewhere. Many telecom service providers begin by targeting power consumption, which can count for over 50% of an operators ongoing operating expenses according to Light Reading analysis. It is easily measurable, delivers a direct impact on lowering costs and operational expenditures, and is inherently green. Data centres have been identified by the ITU as one of the top four hotspots for carbon for a teleco along with base stations, fixed network access and mobile devices. In normal business, data centres that perhaps take up only one-third of office square footage can account for more than half of a business’s energy consumption. This trend continues upward as we find ourselves adding server after server for new telecom services for the mobile user rather than taking a holistic look at all of our assets and how we can make them more efficient In 2008, the Smart2020 report found that the information and communications technology industry was responsible for approximately two percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide - roughly equal to the emissions of the aviation industry according to Gartner. The energy consumption in telecom networks is estimated to be twice that of data centres. With the experience the ICT industry has with data centres we now find that lessons learned from “greening” of a data centre

can be extended to the network to help overall improvement of both energy use and operations. With recent changes in mobile networks, network locations and cell sites are becoming more like “micro data centres”. The challenge of these added network sites is the ability to scale solutions across sometimes thousands of locations consistently to enable energy savings. By leveraging gains in green data centre and applying them methodically to the network sites telecoms are able to drive end to end reduction in energy and thereby carbon footprint. For example, getting data centre cooling under control is critical to controlling energy costs. Most estimates show that running servers and storage account for less than half of the energy costs while cooling can amount to up to 50 percent of power consumption. Cooling is also the major source of power consumption in network sites according to recent GSMA reports. Several technologies exist to help monitor and control heat. One way might be a separate high density computing area helps to separate IT equipment with higher or lower heat emissions. This optimizes the cooling calculation, capacity and efficiency and keeps conventional computing servers with lower heat emissions. Water cooling is also one of the most recent advancements that helps control the heat in data centers. Hot air from the IT equipment is reduced to room temperature by water-cooled heat exchangers attached to server racks. This lessens the need for energy guzzling air conditioning systems that keep data centres at a cool 70 degrees. These techniques are being expanded to network sites of central offices and mobile switching centres to reduce energy use and the same time reduce equipment issues

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 41

due to higher temps. In addition to cooling technology, improved monitoring through software tools can help determine energy consumption levels and increase energy efficiency. Building a sensor network within a data center allows for modeling and monitoring of energy use to best determine how to concentrate usage and maximize cooling. Energy measurement and management software tracks consumption in data centres and monitors power usage. It can then make real time adjustments to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This software allows companies to control – and even set caps on – energy use for servers, storage and networking as well as air conditioning and power management systems that keep a data centre running. For example, putting servers on standby mode when they are not needed can reduce 80 percent of power consumption automatically. If this software was deployed in all the estimated U.S. data centres, the country could save 5.4 billion kilowatt hours per year, or enough electricity to heat about 370,000 homes for a winter. Usage of similar software tools across the network and cell sites can enable a network of sensors at network sites to provide end to end monitoring of energy usage and tie this together to provide not just a complete carbon usage view but the tools to identify best practices for energy use and consistent implementation across their network of cell sites. Non-utilized cell sites could be shut down during times of non-usage by using operational software and analytics to determine traffic flows. This advanced monitoring can also help to detect fuel usage, theft and confirm fuel deliveries in remote sites, extending the advantages of energy management beyond simple energy use to other areas of operational savings on resources and personnel. Combining this with business intelligence software can help to drive analytics on the information being collected to find new insights and new ways of energy usage and operations. This approach can help identify sites that are using energy inefficiently and identify root causes that can be addressed to reduce energy consumption. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that up to 50 percent of data centres may already be obsolete in terms of power, cooling and space capacity, and more than 70 percent of the world’s organizations will have to modify their data centre facilities significantly during the next five years. Greening a data centre focuses on delivering hardware, software and services to enable the data centre to better manage

42 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

utilization and prevent equipment sprawl, become more energy efficient, and become increasingly interconnected. Computer servers, like automobiles, come in all shapes, sizes, engine powers and fuel efficiencies. And with both, there is always a delicate balance between power and energy. Engines need to run smoothly and not overheat, while efficiently using gas. Servers need to be optimized in all the same ways – in their design, in the way businesses deploy them, and also with the help of software that can improve productivity. By optimizing the efficiency and “greening” the data centre, companies can recoup the cost in two years or less. For example, virtualization software allows a company to treat one server like many, dividing it into virtual pieces of itself running whatever operating system and applications are necessary for a given project. Like topping each slice of a pizza with different ingredients, rather than making a whole pie of only one topping, virtualization software helps us maximize the use of one server before going out to buy a new one. Without virtualization, some companies have each department and application running their own physical server, running at perhaps only 25 or 30 percent utilization. This server sprawl represents not only a significant investment in equipment, but also a heavy drain on power – and energy bills. Gone are the days when managing a data centre meant focusing on how much capacity the computers could handle. The data centre is evolving into an organization’s “control centre,” required to manage a growing spectrum of activities that stretch far beyond traditional computing into a complex ecosystem. Handling a data centre today means dealing with everything from business compliance and risk issues to volatile energy costs and environmental sustainability questions. It means

managing a host of smart devices that link into the data centre from around the world as well as the executives and employees, who are more tech savvy and more demanding around the clock. It may also mean integrating cloud computing into a company’s strategy so that huge amounts of data and analytical resources can be accessed from the Internet in the most efficient manner possible to maximize computing resources as needed. These technologies are not applied in a vacuum but instead as part of an integrated, systemic approach. For example, facility design elements such as proper insulation and hot and cold airflow management can play an important role in significantly lowering power consumption and improving overall system reliability. Establishing and maintaining a green data centre requires a holistic approach in setting, achieving, measuring and verifying results. It requires examination of all aspects of systems and data centre equipment, facilities, infrastructure service management, systems workload and people. The same can be found with network sites and a holistic approach applied in a similar manner - IBM has developed an optimization framework that speaks to both efficient data centre operations and green concerns. Named the Green Data Centre, the program is a comprehensive and detailed optimization framework that addresses both design and operational aspects of a facility that can be balanced with data center needs enabling enterprise requirements. The Green Data Centre calls for an initial operational audit. In this case, emphasis is specifically placed on energy consumption. The audit then becomes the basis upon which current and future evaluations are conducted. Included in this

program are mechanisms addressing the physical infrastructure and equipment and overall architecture requirements addressing multiple data centres. In its toolkit are advanced technologies such as virtualization, energy-efficient hardware, and software management tools geared toward balancing workload demand with equipment power use. IBM has also applied this thinking to the mobile network and mobile cell sites combining monitoring with operational deployment through Intelligent Site Operations to realize both energy and operational savings. IBM combines expertise in business intelligence and analytics with operations tools to help improve telecom network energy usage, reduce labor costs and help manage the capital assets deployed throughout the network. Going forward, as telecoms pull the measurement together with a management systems and a strategic approach, organizations will be faced with trying to operate increasingly complex and costly data centers in concert with network infrastructures to enable growth. Going green will need to be part of that plan – it stands to benefit an organization’s pocketbook, be good for the planet and attract next generation of workers, who want to work for businesses that practice corporate responsibility. Green Data Centres, Intelligent Site Operations, and Smart Buildings are some of the solutions enabled by IBM’s vision for a Smarter Planet. IBM helps Communications Service Providers around the world integrate these solutions and others using the IBM Service Provider Delivery Environment, a framework to help Service Providers reduce the time to value and reduce the risk of implementing solutions to their most important business issues. AT

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 43


Inala Technologies, head office located in Johannesburg, has had a strong partner relationship with IdaTech, providing backup power solutions for telecommunication applications. Inala has installed and supported IdaTech’s backup power fuel cells on networks in South Africa. In addition to telecommunications, Inala also distributes and supports equipment and solutions in the broadcast industry. As a result, Inala has become a supplier of choice in South and sub-Saharan Africa.

Fuel Cells Provide Reliable Backup Power At Telecom Sites


ith the rapid expansion of wireless communication systems worldwide, and the increasing socioeconomic benefits of mobile phone technology, the need for dependable and economical backup power is critical. Electric grid loss, whether from severe weather, natural disasters, or limited grid capacity, is an on-going challenge for telecom network operators. Telecom carriers are increasingly choosing fuel cell systems for backup power over diesel generators because they are reliable, low maintenance, quiet, environmentally friendly, and less likely to be involved with theft. IdaTech, a fuel cell manufacturer in the United States, recently launched its next generation ElectraGen ME backup power fuel cell system. This latest advanced fuel cell technology offers significant advantages over previous generations including lower cost, higher reliability, longer lifetime, and a smaller footprint. The ElectraGen™ ME extended run backup power fuel cell system is available in 2.5 or 5 kW, 24 or 48 volt configurations. A unique feature of this fuel cell system is that it includes a fuel reformer that converts methanol and water (HydroPlus) liquid fuel into hydrogen gas to power the unit. This allows the fuel cell to support backup power requirements for days instead of hours. The system includes a 225-liter fuel tank that allows the fuel cell

44 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

to generate 5kW of power for 40 hours, compared to a direct hydrogen system that would require 24 T-cylinders of hydrogen to produce the same amount of energy. In situations where hydrogen storage is difficult due to location, space, cost, and weight restrictions a fuel cell system with fuel reformer makes sense. How does the fuel cell work at a telecom site? The system continuously monitors the direct current (DC) bus voltage and seamlessly takes over the site’s load when the main AC power fails and the DC bus falls below a customer determined set point. Electricity is generated by the fuel cell stack as direct current, which the DC/DC converter regulates to serve the site’s load. Low emissions, high efficiency, and quiet operation are a few of the “green” characteristics of an IdaTech fuel cell system. Fuel cell systems are more efficient at producing electricity than internal combustion engines such as diesel or LPG generators. Increased efficiency reduces fuel consumption and lowers operating costs. Fuel cell systems are quieter and have significantly less vibration than diesel generators. Quiet operation is highly valued in areas where people live and sleep and can lead to reduced vandalism. Backup power fuel cell systems are clean technology solutions that lower operating costs, improve network reliability, and benefit the environment. AT

46 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

Green Touch™ Initiative: Communication Turns Totally Green Alcatel-Lucent leads a global consortium to reduce communication’s and the Internet’s carbon footprint


very day, more than a billion people use communications technologies and access the Internet, and that figure will easily grow into the billions in the coming years as more people get connected to the global communications network and more and richer services are offered. This dramatic growth in usage will generate an equally dramatic increase in energy consumption, a trend that will have an adverse effect on the environment if it is not addressed now. The communications industry is only responsible for about 2% of the world’s carbon emissions but that figure

will inevitably grow, given the escalating demand for new services, unless we make networks dramatically more energy efficient.

Communications Turns Totally Green

Environmental challenges impact everyone – governments, businesses and individuals – and advanced, effective communications can effectively help address these challenges. To face the challenge of reducing energy consumption,

Issue 9 2010


Bell Labs HQ

Bell Labs

Ben Verwaayen CEO - Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent has taken a leadership role through Bell Labs and has initiated in January 2010 GreenTouch™ Initiative, the industry-wide consortium with the objective to make communications networks a 1,000 times more energy efficient than they are today, in collaboration with service providers and other leading research organizations around the world. The consortium includes leading industry players, research institutions and non-governmental organizations, which are collaborating to define the challenge, identify solutions and develop solutions with the goal to deliver the architecture, specifications, roadmap, and demonstrations of key components needed to reduce ICT energy consumption. According to Gee Rittenhouse, Vice President Of Research at Bell Labs and Consortium Lead: “Over the next decade billions more people will upload and share video, images and information over public and private networks as we communicate with each other in new, rich ways. We also expect ICT usage to dramatically increase as other industries use networks to reduce their own carbon footprints. This naturally leads to an exponential growth in ICT energy consumption which we, as an industry, have to jointly address. This consortium is unique in looking way beyond making incremental efficiency improvements and tapping into innovation and expertise from around the globe to achieve fundamental breakthroughs in ICT carbon emissions reduction.” The initiative expects to deliver - within five years demonstrations of key technologies and components needed to realize the fundamental re-design of networks that will be needed to build networks that eliminate the need to sacrifice energy efficiency for performance. According to Ben Verwaayen, Alcatel-Lucent CEO: “The goal is bold, but doable as Bell Labs research suggests that today’s ICT networks could theoretically be 10,000 times more energy efficient then they are today - so a goal of a thousand becomes daunting but achievable if the industry comes together.

24 48 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

"The goal is bold, but doable as Bell Labs research suggests that today’s ICT networks theoretically be 10,000 times more energy efficient then they are today"

Bell Labs researchers discovered that the structural details of an Euplectella sea sponge correspond to fundamental mechanical engineering principles used in buildings such as (from top) the Swiss Re Tower in London, hotel De Las Artes in Barcelona, Spain and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Photo credit: Alcatel-Lucent/Bell Labs.)

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Wessel Van der Vyver, General Manager, Telecom Namibia International

Jose dos Santos, CEO, Vodacom Mozambique

Hussein Rifaii, Chairman & Managing Director, MDC

Noel Herrity, CEO, Zantel Tanzania

Megan Arthur, General Manager for Customer Development & Retention, MTN South Africa

Nazar H. Sahal, Rachid Sefrioui, Executive Information Technology Director, VP of Strategy & Regulation, Expresso Telecom Wana, Morocco Group Ltd

Paul Edwards, Chairman, Starcomms Nigeria

Dr Angus Hay, Chief Technology Officer, Neotel, South Africa

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Alcatel-Lucent recognizes the important role our industry plays in addressing environmental issues and is committed to transforming communications for a sustainable world.

Greener networks for a greener world

GreenTouch is an ambitious long-term, industry-wide initiative, but more near term is Alcatel-Lucent’s Alternative Energy Program, which helps service providers meet their need for reliable and sustainable power for remote locations. Benefits include new subscribers, lower operating costs, and a reduced carbon footprint and that has been lately honored by the European Commission with the Sustainable Energy Europe Award 2010. Moreover, Alcatel-Lucent has earlier launched the world’s first alternative energy laboratory and pilot site dedicated to the telecoms market in 2009. Located outside of Paris, the site consists of a wireless base station powered by a hybrid system of solar panels and wind turbines, but not dependent on the electrical grid. Through the technology developed at Bell Labs, the site makes it possible for the more than one billion people in areas not served with electricity to access advanced communications service. The laboratory is researching other energy sources as well, such as fuel cells and bio-fuels, and is serving as a bridge between the cultures and expertise of the alternative energy and telecommunications industries.

Green in the core of Alcatel-Lucent’s Values

Alcatel-Lucent recognizes the important role our industry plays in addressing environmental issues and is committed to transforming communications for a sustainable world. That is why the company is also embedding environmental responsibility in all worldwide operations. Alcatel-Lucent has reduced our carbon footprint by 13 percent from last year and by changing our method of shipping product by air to surface methods we reduced emissions from product transit by a full 25 percent.  Alcatel-Lucent facilities around the world are also putting programs in place to ensure that our operations have effective recycling programs, energy-use reduction initiatives and careful hazardous waste management systems.  Ultimately, the industry’s most significant contribution will be its ability to develop and deploy innovative communications applications that help other industries reduce their impact -- in other words using communications to enable new processes and practices that can help reduce the causes of 98 percent of the carbon emissions. AT

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 49

with MATS VILANDER GENERAL MANAGER EMEA, ZEPHYR CORPORATION What are your company’s key product lines and services?

Zephyr Corporation develops, manufactures and sells small wind turbines which can power all types of base stations in both on-grid and off-grid situations, at new sites and retrofitting existing sites. We work with infrastructure suppliers as well as system integrators to provide a complete wind package for operators. All they need to do is point us to the base station sites that need power and we can do the rest – planning, installation and maintenance.

Can you update us on the wind power market?

The industry has been talking about wind power for a long time; the good news is that the technology has improved massively over the last few years. Previously wind turbines weren’t really mature enough for deployment on a mass-scale. They were too expensive, required a lot of maintenance and the turbines were large, heavy, difficult to install – and most importantly required high wind speeds. Established in 1997, Zephyr Corporation has installed over 4,000 turbines around the world mainly at homes and retail sites. We entered the telecoms market in 2009 after extensive R&D produced a range of turbines specifically tailored for the demands of operators. Our turbines are small, light and can generate energy at much lower wind speeds than previously - at around 2.5 metres per second.

How big is the market in Africa?

The GSMA estimates that nearly 639,000 off-grid base stations will be rolled out across emerging markets by 2012 and is aiming for 118,000 of these to be powered with renewable energy.

52 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

The telecoms industry as a whole has united in accepting that diesel-generators are neither a commercially sustainable or environmentally sensible way of powering base stations in off-grid locations. Of course, the African market holds huge potential for utilising wind power. Operators are actively looking for commercially viable ways to power base stations in off-grid sites – and reduce costs at on-grid locations. Zephyr Corporation’s wind turbines have been developed for both scenarios.

What are the cost savings?

In off-grid situations wind power is, of course, being used to reduce the reliance on diesel generators. Operators who have implemented wind power are saving around 50% of the diesel consumption for existing remote rural sites, sometimes up to 100% of diesel (at repeater sites). Plus, of course, the costs of transporting the diesel and risks need to be factored in. With correct installation, maintenance can be reduced to zero as our turbines can be controlled and checked remotely. According to Allen Nogee, an analyst at telecoms research firm In-Stat: “While diesel pollution is an environmental issue, what bothers operators the most is the cost of powering and securing the generators. Diesel fuel has to be trucked to remote sites, and theft of diesel fuel and equipment can cost operators millions of dollars. The solution is for operators to at least partially power remote base stations with wind turbines, solar panels, or both. This is truly a case where it pays to be green.”

What progress have you made in Africa?

So far we have concentrated on building our partner network and initiating direct relationships with operators in Africa. We

will be able to announce operators deploying our turbines in the next few months or so.

What about solar?

Wind can be used to compliment solar-generated power. Solar is used during the day and then wind is used day and night to both power the network and charge up batteries. Of course, solar does have its drawbacks: firstly it is not suited to areas prone to fog and clouds. Secondly the panels require a large space and are relatively easy to steal. And so they are usually surrounded by a fence with constant security on-site that, of course, adds to the cost of deployment. Wind power is now a real option in Africa. Take a look at this wind chart of Africa and you’ll see that many areas can easily support wind turbines. If you want to check wind speeds in your area then NASA, the US space agency, has global wind maps that show wind speeds at 40 metres above the earth’s surface. This will provide a starting point; speeds at specific areas are available from a variety of sources.

What do operators need to think about when considering deploying wind?

The Business Case for an existing site depends on a number of factors: • Average wind speed in the area/site • Height of existing tower • Site load - maximum load during the day • Site design - the number of TRX, base station type, transmission • The installed battery capacity • Whether wind is being used as a backup or primary source. If solar is also being used. • Accessibility of site • Total Diesel Cost (consumption and handling costs) Obviously costs depend on the vendor chosen but as an estimate the cost of buying and installing a standard configured turbine system from Zephyr Corporation which can power a typical rural GSM Base station requiring 600 watts and reduce diesel on an existing tower with 6-7 m/s of wind is around ZAR 114,000 – 152,000.

What does the future hold?

Wind power is now ready for commercial deployments. The old way of using diesel as the primary energy source or backup will result in higher costs over time while wind has the opposite effect. AT

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 53




In several African countries, in particular Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, regulatory organizations are expected to pass a mandate requiring carriers to institute Number Portability (or Mobile Number Portability [MNP]) in their networks. It is expected that many African countries will follow suit soon after. In some cases, the directive will state that Number Portability (NP) must be in service by mid-2011. Telecoms providers are placed in a position whereby they must purchase network equipment in order to meet the requirement, yet the application garners many of them no additional revenue. By its nature, Number Portability allows subscribers to more easily change carriers, resulting in some losers and some winners.

54 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010



he primary objective of NP is to give subscribers the ability to change their network operator while retaining their original Directory Number. This significantly impacts mobile and fixed line carriers on a regional and global basis, since the traditional destination of a number now becomes a virtual address; the Directory Number can no longer be associated with a specific service provider. This affects not just billing and routing schema but also requires the addition of databases, Service Order Management systems, and procedures for enabling and monitoring the porting process. There are several mechanisms that can be used to implement Number Portability. It is expected that most African regulators will settle on the method called All Call Query (ACQ), requiring every call to undergo a number portability database inquiry. Basically, all calls must make an extra stop at a database along the signalling network to be routed to the correct destination point. This being the case, the most costeffective way for operators to achieve MNP is by integrating the MNP network routing database into the centralized router, or Signalling Transfer Point (STP), making MNP an integral part of the routing and signalling network. PT (www., a leading IP-based telecommunications equipment provider, designs, manufactures and implements this unique solution. The team at PT is comprised of experts in signalling and Number Portability, and is ready to work with African carriers to execute a quick, cost-effective network solution. The SEGway™ Number Portability offering from PT can be rapidly and seamlessly deployed into any carrier network. Whether the prospect of Number Portability is discouraging to carriers because it represents an expense with little express advantage, or it is welcomed because of the opportunity to capture new customers, the fact remains that when NP is implemented as a part of the STP, there is an unforeseen benefit. It is, in effect, a boon to carriers that have been struggling with networks that have incurred daunting complexity in the process of growth. Despite the fact that the limitations and pitfalls of expanding mesh networks is a recognized problem, frustrated engineering staff struggle to justify the investment to upgrade and convert to a hierarchical, STP based, signalling network design. It can now be argued that the previous reluctance to spend capital for a signalling network upgrade is offset in the face of the regulatory requirement to deploy NP. In other words, a structured lower cost and easier-to-maintain signalling network is an attractive by-product of having to put Number Portability into service. Implementation of Number Portability as an integrated part of an STP network means that transport savings and reduced maintenance cost objectives can be realized while simplifying the network architecture and achieving greater efficiency. The projected breakeven point with a PT STP in this scenario can typically range from twelve to eighteen months, so what was initially thought to be a sunk cost for Number Portability

Number Portability Topology Diagram For more information on PT’s SEGway™ Mobile Number Portability Solution, call +44.779.555.6377 or +44.483.20093 or visit

turns into a favorable business case for efficient network management. When PT’s Number Portability solution is integrated into a mated pair of SEGway™ STPs, the mandate is then met, and additional bonuses are achieved – the efficient, scalable platform allows further applications and features to be deployed without adding new stand alone platforms. Examples of value-add functionalities to preserve revenue, increase efficiency, prevent fraud, and provision disaster recovery include: • SMS Firewall – allows the deployment of advanced mechanisms for the prevention of SMS Spam, Spoofing, and Fraud. • Disaster Recovery Provisioning – allows the deployment of a Disaster Recovery plan with the location of each fully redundant node in a different switch room and different geographic location • SIP Bridge – allows the use of legacy databases by Next-Gen customers who are using SIP and VoIP • Message Accounting – allows validation of intercarrier billing • Advanced Routing – allows support for least cost routes for international and domestic traffic • Advanced Load Share – allows more efficient use of existing network elements such as the HLRs and SMSCs The hidden benefit of Number Portability is actually twofold. It eases the choice and justifies the expense of moving to simpler network architecture, and it affords an ideal platform on which to build a more robust system. AT

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 55


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**Please quote reference code: 092010

• • • • • • •

The first fully integrated monthly publication aimed at all stakeholders within the African ITC environment. The Africa Telecoms website provides further coverage and extended reach. The site is updated daily and features all the latest news on the African Telecoms landscape. Africa Telecoms has an audience reach across the entire African continent, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas. The magazine strives to bring its readership fair, balanced and stimulating news, in addition to articles by the top players in telecommunications in Africa. The magazine is published 11 times a year. Articles from the Continent’s Thought Leaders and Innovators Africa Telecoms is the first African publication to be audited by BPA Worldwide.

AFRICA TELECOM STATS The purpose of this page is to give readers of Africa Telecoms a brief overview as to the growth and statistics related to the Telecoms and ICT markets in Africa. What we will be doing on an annual basis is relooking at the statistics, this way over time Africa Telecoms will have a basis for tracking developments and growth in the Africa Market. Each Edition of Africa Telecoms will be focused on a specific area. This month we focus on Green Telecoms, to this end we have

tried to include a range of Green Telecoms related statistics relevant to the International Telecoms Market. I trust that you will find this information of value and interest, should you have comments on this page or statistics that you think would be relevant that we have not included (or that you have access to and would be of interest to our readership) the Africa Telecoms team would appreciate an e-mail to

Worldwide Green Communications Technologies Revenues, 2008 - 2013 ($ Billions) The Insight Research Corporation 2008

$ 300.0 $ 250.0


$ 200.0 $ 150.0 $100.0 $ 50.0 $ 0.0 2008





Number of Renewable Base Stations



Namibia Kenya Senegal Guinea

Mobinil (ECMS) Mobinil (ECMS) Mobinil (ECMS) Mobinil (ECMS) MTC MTC Safaricom Safaricom Safaricom Orange (Sonatel) Orange (Sonatel)





1 27




1 21


2 120,000 - 130,000 140,000 - 150,000

80 100

58 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

80 100


GSMA Green Power for Mobile / Wireless Intelligence 16/09/2010



10 - 20 0 - 10 20 - 30 10 - 20 10 - 20

> 5.5 > 5.5 3.5 - 4.0 4.5 - 5.0 > 5.5

40 - 50 20 - 30

2.0 - 2.5 4.5 - 5.0


0.5 - 1.0 1.0 - 1.5 0.0 - 0.5 0.0 - 0.5 0.0 - 0.5 1.0 - 1.5 1.0 - 1.5


Motorola Motorola Philafe Winafrique Winafrique Winafrique Ericsson

Worldwide Telecommunication Emission Split 2010-2020

Green Power for Mobile - Country Metrics Gartner 2010 COUNTRY

MTC02 = Metric Ton Carbon Dioxide

Devices Mobile Infrastructure Fixed Broadband Fixed Narrowband

6.22 31.56 48.55 13.67

2010 MTCO2





2015 MTCO2

14.00 20.00



2020 MTCO2

Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde Central African Republic Chad Comoros Congo Congo (DRC) Cote d’Ivoire Djibouti Egypt Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Rwanda Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe




34.9 18.5 8.9 1.9 15.8 8.3 19.5 0.5 4.4 11.2 0.7 3.7 66 21.1 0.9 83 0.7 5.1 82.8 1.5 1.7 23.8 10.1 1.6 39.8 2.1 4 6.4 19.6 15.3 13 3.3 1.3 32 22.9 2.2 15.3 154.7 10 12.5 0.1 5.7 9.1 50.1 42.3 1.2 43.7 6.6 10.3 32.7 12.9 12.5

90.49 56.91 44.24 112.78 22.46 10.6 42.8 114.33 16.95 22.45 8.48 71.52 15.95 88.74 10.39 75.34 57.82 3.06 5.16 109.06 77.91 64.92 47.49 36.2 54.36 44.72 45.43 161.91 23.07 19.63 27.3 68.35 84.71 75.4 33.13 77.55 18.81 56.72 25.02 59.45 108.33 35.28 5.78 97.61 41.32 59.15 41.93 18.51 96.28 37.86 38.61 16.76

65.89 57.64 41.61 60.41 19.97 10.68 57.6 60.38 38.72 27.11 28.08 61.72 34.56 49.49 87.76 42.72 39.5 21.1 17.23 85.61 57.34 50.74 34.85 29.87 21.86 26.15 60.85 77.69 29.82 19.26 32.74 41.18 42.45 56.37 37.65 37.38 16.56 49.08 18.56 42.59 54.79 38.05 36.97 61.22 44.36 25.17 25.92 42.74 66.9 13.12 35.51 37.75

not available * Figures ELECTRIFICATION RATE (%)

98 15 22 39 7


47 83.78

* * *20

6 50

*98 *20 15 48

*49 * *14 11 55.55 97 15 7

* * 94

85 6 34

*46 *33 * * *70



17 99 9 19 34

GSMA Green Power for Mobile / Wireless Intelligence 16/09/2010 Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 59



BY Brett Haggard

Green base stations will command the lion’s share of mobile telcos’ spend into the developing world over the next couple of years – and it’s not just because they’re kinder to the environment. 60 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010


reen technology in the telecoms sector over the past decade has largely been nothing more than an attempt by the world’s telcos to pay lip service to the worldwide move towards reducing carbon footprints and an attempt to prove they are socially aware. But, that’s changing fast. The more modern motivation for looking into environmentally friendly ways of powering base stations and providing coverage to customers in rural and underserviced areas is less about social impact and more about pure economic gain. And as with most things in life, the moment there’s money to be made, the proverbial gold rush is not far away.

Perfect Storm

Most telecoms analysts agree that there’s been a perfect storm of sorts developing in this sector as far as ‘green’ is concerned over the past year. Where green power technologies such as solar paneling and wind turbines used to cost a fortune and often not deliver a decent return on investment, more modern derivatives have become more efficient – both in terms of the volume of power they’re able to generate from the elements and what they cost. Then there’s the fact that mobile telecoms infrastructure – even in some of the more developing regions of the world – has reached a level of maturity, meaning that in order to grow revenues and continue delivering value to their shareholders,

mobile telcos are having to move into rural areas where there’s untapped potential. Without ready access to electricity, let alone backhaul capabilities, mobile telcos are having to go offgrid, building self-contained, self-sustaining base stations from the ground up. And according to those operators in full swing with a green rollout – base stations built in this way can be profitable by providing voice and data services to communities that never had coverage before.

Completely Off-grid

To take a closer look at what makes one of these base stations tick, we visited a new green site MTN has erected at Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The piece of land MTN’s green site is built on, like most other sites designed to service rural areas, was chosen because of it’s height with relation to its surrounding geography, making the GSM 900 equipment employed by the base station capable of providing coverage for 25kms in every direction around it. The site employs a combination of 200 25-watt solar panels and a wind turbine manufactured by Bergey to generate power for the station. The power is in turn directed into two massive walls of gel-based batteries – that have a lifespan of ten years – which store power for times when weather conditions aren’t ideal for power generation.

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 61

it’s in itself, some of the most power efficient equipment available today.

Outside of the measures MTN has put in place to deal with the generation of power, it’s also making use of peer-to-peer microwave technology and a number of repeaters to make allowance for the base station’s backhaul capabilities. This means the site is not only greener than most, it’s completely off-grid and relies on nothing other than MTN’s own infrastructure. The batteries are used to power the site should anything go awry with the power generation capabilities of the solar array or wind turbine. And although the site is deigned to generate 11 Kilowatts of power per hour, at the time of our visit the station was generating in the region of 1.5 Kilowatts of power per hour and the wind turbine was not part of that equation, since there was quite simply not enough wind at the time. Providing 10 Erlang GSM900 voice service to the area that falls within a 25km radius of the green site, as well as a UMTS900 data services with a peak downlink speed of 1.5Mbps and maximum uplink speed of 1Mbp, the base station consumes no more than 1.3 Kilowatts per hour. Largely, MTN says this results from the fact that the equipment used inside the base station doesn’t require an airconditioning unit or any form of additional cooling and that it’s

62 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

in itself, some of the most power efficient equipment available today. All of these factors combined means that should the power generation abilities of the site fail entirely, the site is able to run on the power stored in its batteries for somewhere in the region of five days, which is more than enough time to get a technician to the site and initiate repairs. Other than repairs to the power system, MTN makes use of what it calls a ‘garden service’, which visits the base station once every three months or so to clean out cobwebs, sweep and generally clean up the site. All other forms of maintenance are carried out remotely and electronically.


Apart from the sheer technical brilliance of the green site MTN has erected in Riemvasmaak, the impact on the community it services is quite obvious. On the night our press delegation arrived, we heard from a native lady who has witnessed first hand the change cellular coverage can make to the life of her community. She and her community had grown up with the need to share a single, archaic phone line that still made use of a hand

crank and needed an operator to man the exchange, manually patching calls together on a switchboard. While this is no longer the status quo, terrestrial lines are difficult to get ordered and more importantly, keep connected, since many households simply cannot afford the rental on the line and often don’t have a usage level that warrants that rental in the first place. With cellular telephony however it’s a different story. Handsets are accessible and cheap (some cost as little as ZAR100), prepaid plans allow for little or no monthly costs if calls aren’t made and since the wireless coverage area stretches so far, users are connected wherever they happen to be. And for those that need Internet connectivity it’s not only an improvement, but rather the availability of an Internet service where there was none before. Areas such as Riemvasmaak don’t get ADSL coverage, because there’s quite simply not enough appetite to warrant Telkom upgrading its exchange. For MTN to add data capabilities to its base station however and configure this for 1.5Mbps 3G services is far more viable – and it has a good chance of driving data usage to users that had never considered using the Internet. It’s completely different paradigm – and it’s great to see in action.


To bring things back to ‘green’ however, once an operator has made the investment in a base station such as MTN’s green site at Riemvasmaak, the running costs are negligible. MTN saves ‘a couple of thousand Rand’ a month on an electricity bill from Eskom and had difficulty estimating the savings on renting backhaul capacity from Telkom, since this would quite simply not be available in an area such as Riemvasmaak. So while there are monthly savings, there’s quite a difference in the upfront costs of a ‘green site’ versus a traditional base station. Where a traditional base station would set an operator back between ZAR1m and ZAR1.5m, this particular base station cost MTN ZAR2.5m. With 30 to 40 heavy users utilizing the voice and data services provided by this base station however, MTN believes it can reach a level of profitability. It’s not just the monthly savings on power and backhaul that make this kind of technology compelling however – in fact, telcos can’t rely on these savings to make green sites viable alone. It’s about providing services in an area which hasn’t enjoyed decent coverage until now and the growth in usage that’s sure to follow now that there’s a decent quality of service. Currently, MTN has somewhere in the region of 20 sites just like this in South Africa and plans are afoot to roll somewhere in the region of 150 new sites of the same kind out over the coming year. And there’s even newer technology available now that’s

Should the Power generation abilities of the site fail entirely, the site is able to run on the power stored in its batteries for somewhere in the region of 5 days Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 63

capable of tripling the voice and data capacity of such a base station without increasing power consumption. Considering this, it’s not surprising that MTN plans to focus between 50% and 60% of its spending on new base stations over the coming year on this kind of technology.

Green = business as usual

The green trend is going way outside of simple base station design however and for many operators, it’s becoming an everyday business condition – mainly because it’s a great way to access cost savings. A good example of this is the fact that the infrastructure investment undertaken by the Vodacom Group during the past financial year had a strong cost management element – and made use of reductions in energy usage to effect those cost savings. The company says a key consideration in its RAN renewal programme has been to reduce power consumption via the installation of more efficient equipment and through the utilisation of ‘free cooling’ technology – base station equipment that requires little or no cooling assistance from air conditioners and the likes. The LTE-ready equipment installed during the year consumes up to 35 to 50% less power than the technology, which it replaced. In addition to this, free cooling technology which has been installed at more than 1,000 sites monitors the external air temperature

64 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

and when possible shuts down air-conditioning units to use ambient air for cooling equipment. This technology aims to reduce air-conditioning run-time by around 60%, lowering energy consumption and also increasing maintenance and replacement intervals on cooling equipment. Reduced energy consumption was also a key consideration in the development of the no-frills base station (‘NFB’), a project that was undertaken in association with Vodafone and Huawei. This project showed that a solar-powered NFB could in certain instances replace a conventional generator-powered remote site while providing a reasonable return on investment. Vodacom is exploring the roll out of NFBs in its networks, especially in remote sites. The Group has also successfully tested several different zero emission fuel cell power sources to provide back-up electricity generation in the event of the loss of power from the grid. These include more conventional hydrogen-powered fuel cells and an exciting new methanol and water-powered fuel cell. Fuel cells have proven to be reliable, clean and quiet alternatives to diesel generators and further deployment of this equipment across the network is under evaluation. As part of the RAN renewal programme in South Africa, the Group has begun installing remote radio head technology. The remote radio head is mounted closer to the antennae, thus avoiding losses through costly radio frequency feeders. The result is lower power consumption through reduced losses and reduced cooling requirements. This technology also decreases the cost and risks (e.g. copper theft) associated with RF feeders and negates the requirement for tower-mounted amplifiers. In a goal set earlier this year – 31st March 2010 when its Sustainable Development Report saw the light of day Vodacom SA announced it is working towards a realistic longterm target of 70% energy savings at 3G base stations, and 40% at 2G base stations. This is a multi-year project and the company is upgrading several base stations per year according to budget. As the rate of replacement is dictated by depreciation, asset write-offs and other business drivers, there is no clear target date for completing this programme.

That said however, the following table shows savings achieved from a single measured site typical of Vodacom SA’s 2G and 3G base stations:

Total Avegage kWh RAN Swop Free Cooling Total reduction

Pre total kW Post total kW kW reduction % reduction Pre total kW Post total kW kW reduction % reduction Pre total kW Post total kW kW reduction % reduction

3.11 1.99 1.13 36.22 1.99 1.37 0.62 31.21 3.11 1.37 1.75 56.12

Every other item of existing radio network and core network is being re-evaluated in terms of energy consumption and will be included in all future decisions for roll-out and replacement. Vodacom SA has formulated a strategic roadmap to achieve a power saving of nearly 83,000 MWh and a carbon emissions savings of nearly 74,000 tonnes CO2 over three years. This project is currently on track.

Bottom line benefits

Vodacom and MTN aren’t the only examples of mobile telcos

in Africa and other emerging markets that are adopting green practises and seeing the benefits on the bottom line. While green is proving to be more cost effective, it is relatively new territory and one that will take a great deal of effort to implement master and make part of the telcos’ DNA over the coming years. How that transition takes place will be the interesting part. Green is here to stay and with it’s coming is just another way of doing business for telcos, and it is worthwhile pondering whether there will even be points worth discussing in the coming years. AT

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 65

Reducing PoweR consumPtion in Optical netwOrks thrOugh phOtOnic integratiOn

BY Geoff Bennett, Director of Strategic Marketing, Infinera

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is at the heart of the ‘new world economy’. In 2008, ICT directly contributed around 16 percent to global GDP (gross domestic product) and contributes indirectly to many other parts of the economy. Anything that might limit the growth of these technology areas would have a very negative impact on a world economy that is struggling to recover from the recent financial meltdown. While ICT can provide an alternative to frequent business trips, and allows a significant proportion of the workforce to be based from home, it also comes with a significant price tag in terms of electrical power use and the subsequent production of atmospheric CO2. In fact, the amount of electrical power consumed by ICT systems generally is increasing dramatically – and in particular the portion of CO2 produced directly by telecommunications technologies.

66 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

The impact of telecommunications on the environment

Between 2002 and 2007, the CO2 emissions from telecommunications increased from 28 to 37 percent of overall ICT CO2 production, a trend that cannot be sustained. Note that by 2020, the telecoms portion is predicted to fall to about 25 percent - ironically, this is not because telecoms will become greener, but because it is believed data centres will come to dominate ICT CO2 emissions. A recent report by Gartner said that globally the IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines. That is a total of two percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, which is not something that telecoms service providers can ignore. In 2008, the European Commission called on member states and industry to use ICT to improve energy efficiency by up to 15 percent by 2020. This has had a positive impact on the telecommunications industry. BT has volunteered to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2020 and Intel has volunteered to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent. In order to achieve these results, telecoms and service providers must take action. First they need to address the main power drains within the network infrastructure. Responsible for storing and processing an ever-growing number of web pages and web requests, data centres are the most energyintensive network applications and account for a large portion of network investment. Between 2006 and 2007, the amount of energy required by data centres increased by 13 percent. IDC estimates that in 2007, in western Europe alone, power consumption from data centres exceeded 40TWH (terawatt hours). This was mainly due to the boost in volume servers required to host the increasing demand for internet services such as music and video downloads. As a result, many operators are starting to employ solutions to remedy the problem such as running data centres at higher temperatures to save on cooling, or installing renewable energy supplies such as solar panels and wind turbines. Mobile operators are looking to reduce the carbon emissions of their base stations. Wireless network providers have talked about energy-efficient base stations that can deliver significant savings in power consumption. It is, however, a different situation for the fixed line networks. The increasing demand for more internet bandwidth means that larger network

68 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

infrastructures are needed. Although the capacity of optical networking systems powering the internet has massively increased, the power consumption-per-bit has not significantly changed. Operators and service providers are looking to green solutions such as renewable energy supplies. Some commentators argue that solar panels can help mitigate the industry’s impact on climate change and emissions. However, there are opportunities for more fundamental innovation that can actually reduce network power consumption per gigabit, instead of simply shifting the power needs around between different energy sources. Statistics show that 11.5 million households in the UK now have access to broadband – almost doubling since 2006. In North America there has been a 132.9 percentage increase in internet users between 2000 and 2009. With increasing demand on the network infrastructure, this is an ideal time for operators to invest in and install innovative and more efficient optical technologies. There has been concern that with such a large increase in web use, including video, user generated content, and music downloads, demand for internet bandwidth could accelerate and one day outstrip supply. Using conventional technology approaches, substantial investment is needed in order to maintain a network that can support global internet

demand and in turn be supported by the energy resources available.

An innovative solution

An innovative technology that addresses these concerns is photonic integrated circuits (PICs). PIC-based optical systems are already deployed; since early 2005, commercial systems have been shipping in the long haul DWDM segment. These systems are based on a monolithic optical chip that integrates 10 wavelengths, each running at 10Gb/s. A monolithic PIC is one where the components are integrated into a single platform made of one material, in this case Indium Phosphide, so delivering all the benefits of semiconductor reliability and economics. By integrating 10 wavelengths onto one PIC, network capacity is increased dramatically, allowing operators to send more information along the same pathways, reducing overall power consumption and lowering costs. PICs can yield a very significant power saving of 40 percent per Gbit/s of transmission capacity. According to the analyst firm Ovum, these PIC-based systems were used to light up around 40 per cent of the long haul capacity around the world in 2008. PIC-based systems reduce not only the energy consumed by network transmission of data; they also reduce the cooling required by network facilities. For every watt consumed by each optical chip, an estimated seven watts of electrical power

are required, most of it for removing the heat from the system and the building. So, a broad-based move to PIC-based systems would have a large impact on total power consumption. PIC-based systems also have a positive impact on network reliability. Each fibre coupling in an optical network is a potential failure point within the network. In a traditional optical system, individual components, such as a laser, modulator, or fibre amplifier, are interconnected with many short lengths of optical fibre. These fibres have to be aligned during the manufacturing phase to a very high tolerance, and this must be maintained for the 25-year projected lifespan of the product. And of course, these fibres are relatively fragile. A PIC-based system eliminates more than 95% of these fibres, making the network more stable and reliable. PICs offer dramatic power-per-bit savings compared to discrete optical solutions. But PICs are at the beginning of their technology cycle, and even greater savings will be made possible with the emergence of PICs based on complex modulation. The history of optical transmission, not surprisingly, shows that the data rate-per-wavelength has tended to increase. Yet for most of that time the modulation technique used to send bits onto the wavelength, and the optical components needed to implement that modulation technique, have remained the same. As the transmission rates increase, more complex modulation techniques must be used. But complex modulation comes at the expense of an explosion of optical components – which in turn implies more fibre couplings and more electrical power used to keep the components cool. Photonic integration breaks this vicious cycle by integrating the components and interconnecting waveguides onto a single chip, which means a dramatic saving in Watts per bit.


The development of the internet is essential to the development of the global economy. It is important that investments are made in the network infrastructure and energy efficient technologies in order to make internet access sustainable. DWDM systems based on PIC technology will become an essential tool for the service provider that wishes to drive down electrical power use as the internet continues to scale. AT

Issue 9 2010 AFRICA TELECOMS 69

THE LAST WORD Twitter Followers vs Metro Pigs PigSpotter tweeting out the Pigs

down? The oldest version of how the Twitter has been a fun filled social slang name ‘Pig’ came about dates back networking and microblogging to the 1809, when Sir Robert Peel entered application which enables its the House of Commons in London - he users to send and read other users' developed a passion for Sandy Back messages called tweets, and has pigs found in Ireland and began to been available to the world since its breed them in Tamworth. Soon, these launch in 2006. pigs were known as Tamworth pigs. Pig It seems twitter can also be used slang was commonplace in Tamworth as a far more useful tool however, because of this, it was in 1829 that the one which can indeed help you relation to police then came into being. In save money and help you stay out America, a group who called themselves of trouble. One particularly forward the Yippies, protested near the 1968 thinking man started a blog in June National Democratic Convention in 2010 which has snowballed into Chicago. They had a small pig as their being an extremely exciting and presidential candidate, and when police controversial topic across South disrupted their demonstration, they started Africa. A blog which has made him to call the police "Pigs". The expression enemies and friends on the right or caught on. Therefore is it fair to blame wrong side of the law depending the PigSpotter for defamation of character on your view of the Metro Police. when “Pig” has been a name used He is famously known as the for decades? ‘PigSpotter’ and he has attracted As a show of good will, the Pig Spotter 21,419 twitter followers. The anonymous PigSpotter recently announced he will no longer The anonymous PigSpotter updates thousands of SA tweet about road blocks but will remain updates thousands of SA motorists motorists on a regular basis, reporting on speed traps. This is to prevent on a regular basis, pointing out the pointing out the exact location the real criminals on the run evading exact location of where the police of where the police are speed arrest. This only shows that the PigSpotter are speed trapping on highways trapping on highways and does in fact care about the justice system. and roads all over the country. He The question is, what motivated this relies on his followers to keep him roads all over the country. anonymous man to start such a blog? Did informed of where the sneaky little he have a bad run in with the law and is piggy’s are hiding in the bushes and taking his revenge, or is he a modern day Robin Hood who then tweets it on his blog. The Spotter refers to the police officers by a number of is tired of seeing innocent locals stripped from their measly cheeky names such as: Pork Rashes; Squealers; Bacon; pittance and is taking a stand for the rest of us. Either way, Bangers; Eisbein. ‘3 piggy’s sitting under the bridge north the Pig Spotter has become a famous man who is respected bound just after Blythdale beach’ is a typical example of a by thousands of SA motorists. I can’t help but wonder if this example of people uniting tweet posted on the blog. The angry Metro Police are not taking these insults behind one blog on Twitter could feed the start of an even lying down and are making a concerted effort to catch bigger and more innovative idea. Twitter is a powerful tool the PigSpotter, threatening to sue him for defamation of which perhaps we are yet to use to its full potential. It character and for defeating the ends of justice. However, only proves the power of communication and how it can is this in fact an illegal act after all? Is this not the same unit us and make this big world feel even smaller. Good for as having signs on the roads warning motorists to slow you PigSpotter! AT



THE AUTHOR | Sarah Theron is the eye in the sky for Africa Telecoms Magazine

72 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 9 2010

Africa Telecoms - Issue 9  

Green Issue

Africa Telecoms - Issue 9  

Green Issue