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David Williams
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David Williams
Global Director of Sales, Research
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Mobile's Green Challenge: Less Power for Towers
Telecom vendors and carriers are increasingly focusing on finding ways to reduce power consumption at tower sites, causing changes across technology solutions and vendors that supply tower sites. Telecom vendors report their carrier customers are experiencing record levels of increased data and voice traffic, driving increased energy costs. Data projections indicate that cell-site transmission requirements will continue to grow strongly over the next several years.

While fuel-cell backup is slowly gaining traction, the use of alternative energy sources for primary power remains a minimal element of the power supply equation for the telecom industry. Carriers remain keen to find alternative primary power solutions to reduce long-term costs, but alternative power is not ready for mass-scale deployments. Vendors, meanwhile, are striving to improve efficiencies in the specific components of tower sites that they already support.

In the U.S., the public electric power grid is the primary power option of choice; however, backup is essential. Along with diesel- and propane-fueled generators, lead acid, nickel cadmium, lithium ion, and other solid-state battery types are the most prevalent backup systems. This will not change over the next three years, especially for high-volume or critical sites. Saving money and improving backup failure rates always interests carriers, and they frequently hedge backup costs by deploying small fleets of generator trucks to provide portable and expanded backup regionally.

Green considerations and sustainability initiatives are on the radar screen, but saving money factors much more heavily into vendors' and carriers' decision-making process in choosing BTS systems, shelters, enclosures, and backup and primary power options. Nevertheless, carriers and vendors want to field sustainable solutions if they meet practical cost and reliability needs.

Despite interest from many corners of the telecom sector, alternative power solutions (e.g., solar, wind, bio-fuels, and compressed air, among others) have not seen adoption at scale; nor are these options likely to gain traction in the foreseeable future. However, these systems have found a niche in underdeveloped countries, remote sites, and other locations where the primary power grid is unreliable or unreachable.

This report provides information on the key technology choices and strategies vendors are pursuing to provide more power-efficient products and services for their carrier customers. It analyzes the impact of green considerations and sustainable fuel sources, backup technologies and power options, and tower configuration design. This report also profiles 13 leading suppliers of telecom tower site systems.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (uni1208_toc.pdf)
Alternative power systems, particularly wind, require maintenance and lack reliability and the cost advantages enjoyed by other options. However, solar and wind power systems have found a tiny niche in remote sites and sites where the primary power grid is unreliable. In these applications, solar power is typically paired with battery or capacitor storage and possibly fuel-cell backup. Wind power is less predictable than solar, but it is used in some advantageous locations. Carriers are interested in the technology, but the cost and reliability has precluded and will continue to preclude significant adoption. The following excerpt shows the installed price ranges for these power systems.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies covered in this report include: ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV); Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); Andrew Wireless Solutions, a division of CommScope Inc. (NYSE: CTV); BCI Communications (OTC BB: BERL); Bechtel Telecommunications; Black & Veatch Holding Co.; Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD); IdaTech, a subsidiary of Idacorp Inc. (NYSE: IDA); Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR); Logan Energy Corp.; Nokia Siemens Networks (NYSE: NOK and NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE); and ReliOn Inc.
Total pages: 25
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