Collins Nnabuife – Abuja
Worried about environmental pollution and the effects of climate change, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has asked Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to explore the use of renewable energies to power their base stations.
NCC said the adoption of renewable energies by telecom companies will reduce the cost of running base stations which will in turn reduce the cost of services.
Speaking at the 2023 World Consumer Rights Day with the theme ‘Empowering Consumers Through Clean Energy Transition’, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta said with the recent licensing of the Fifth Generation (5G) spectrum, the anticipated growth in the number coverage will trigger high demand for data services which will result in increased energy consumption for the network infrastructure especially the Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), Internet of Things (IoT), 5G Customer Premise Equipment (CPEs) and mobile devices for example.
The EVC who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu said this requires the industry to look for green and sustainable power solutions required for the connectivity of IoT devices and network optimisation.
Professor Danbatta said all over the globe, telecom companies are among the biggest energy users, as a result of the stiff industry competition which causes them to try to satisfy their consumers by providing higher-speed networks.
“With the rising utility costs, it is critical for companies to reconsider the sustainability of their operations by lowering the operational impact on the environment. This is more so because it has been found that implementing energy efficiency measures could potentially reduce the operating costs of telcos by up to 20%”, he said.
The NCC Vice Chairman said the Commission, as a responsive world-class organization, has been proactive in responding to the realities and challenges posed by the impact of using fossil fuel as a power source in the telecommunications industry.
“In this regard, the situation in Nigeria is peculiar. Owing to the overall energy challenges of the nation, the fifty-four (54) thousand BTS scattered across the country depend on diesel generators with the attendant noise and environmental pollution.
“Some of these BTS operate on diesel generators for 24 hours across seven days of the week in some locations. Therefore, transitioning to a renewable energy source like solar power will significantly reduce the menace of pollution from individually-powered generators. This will be zero carbon emission from the BTS just as noise pollution would be a thing of the past.
He said to minimize the environmental impacts of climate change caused by carbon emissions, telecom network providers need to come up with a modern and more energy-efficient network.
This according to him includes the use of Solar-powered Cells, wireless electricity, or a hybrid system to replace higher energy-consuming equipment that will lead to a reduction in capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX) and by implication, a reduction in service costs to consumers.
“Transitioning to renewable energy is predicted to result in a lower cost of operation as operators will be able to save on the cost of diesel, which accounts for a large chunk of the costs incurred by these licensees.
“The competition that the Commission consistently promotes among industry players has a natural consequence of the savings on the cost of diesel passed on to consumers, which would potentially result in lower prices for services.
“Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to call on MNOs and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to come up with innovations in sustainable energy in line with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Recommendation ITU-T L.1380 on smart energy solutions for telecom sites’ performance, safety, energy efficiency and environmental impact”, Danbatta noted.
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