In the latest in a series of green projects, the GSM Association (GSMA) has launched a scheme to use excess base station energy to power rural communities in developing countries.
The mobile industry group has partnered with Lighting Africa – a project jointly backed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank – to launch Community Power from Mobile (CPM), which aims to use off-grid power from mobile sites to provide electricity for nearby villages.
Pilot programs will commence in India and Africa in the first quarter of next year, with the goal of developing a commercially viable business model by 2012.
The scheme will initially concentrate on providing charging stations for mobile devices, electric lanterns and household batteries, but will be expanded in future to cover clinics, vaccination fridges and homes and businesses.
Off-grid base stations typically generate more than 5kW of excess power each, enough to provide electricity for 30 homes, 15 vaccination fridges or two clinics.
Mobile users in developing nations pay an average of $3 (€2.22) per month to recharge their phones – a third of monthly mobile spend. Chargers powered by mobile base stations could reduce this cost and boost ARPU by 10%-14%, the GSMA estimates.
The Association has also co-developed a mobile network energy efficiency benchmarking service, to help the group meet its goal of a 40% reduction in industry greenhouse emissions by 2020.
China Mobile, Telefonica and Telenor helped create the tools, which aim to provide a standardized way of measuring network power consumption.
The GSMA plans to approach the mobile industry and international regulators to push the service as a global standard.