As many as 22,000 used generators in the ten to 15 KVA range, will filter into the Nigerian market in the months to come, as mobile networks MTN and Airtel commence comprehensive network overhauls which will see them adopting hybrid alternative power systems in the base stations.
MTN has over 7,000 base stations across the country, each of which is supported by two diesel generators. Same for other telcos.
As a result of the overhaul, the networks will save the many millions of naira which they currently lose to the theft of diesel fuel for their base stations. It is reported that telecom networks lose about ten percent of the diesel they procure, to thieves, between the points of purchase and delivery. Following the upgrades, the networks will also become more nature friendly, as emissions from their base stations will reduce significantly and eventually cancel out.
Industry watchers say that the generators that they discard will become affordable sources of alternative energy for small businesses which otherwise could not afford the cost of new ones.
It is also said that the volume of hybrid alternative power that MTN, Airtel and other telcos will be importing, will attract solar power companies to the country and that other industries would benefit from their services, and that when there are more businesses using these hybrid technologies, carbon emissions from generators will reduce drastically nationwide, creating a cleaner environment.
MTN Nigeria has begun a $1.3bn (N204bn) comprehensive network overhaul with the aim of increasing its capacity and offering improved services to its over 40 million subscribers. The Corporate Services Executive, MTN Nigeria, Wale Goodluck, who disclosed this during a press briefing in Lagos , said the network modernisation and swap-out exercise would entail upgrade and replacement of key network components with newer versions. He said MTN‘s radio and transmission infrastructure as well as the core network would be fully optimised, adding that major cities, such as Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Kano and Aba would be given special attention.
With over 7,000 Base Tranceiver Stations nationwide, Goodluck said MTN would complete 3,000 new ones by the end of the year to bring the company’s total to over 10,000. He gave an assurance that with the project, MTN would be able to integrate to its network, at least, 200 new base stations every month as from January 2013. “The network modernisation and swap-out project is part of the $1.3bn investment we have earmarked for 2012, and this investment, like many we have consistently made since our inception, is in pursuit of world-class quality of service on our network. We are delighted that this project brings us within a grasping distance of the mark,” he said.
The project, which has been in the pipeline for several months, commenced over a month ago after intensive planning, and it is expected to last for nine months, according to Goodluck. “Our local team working closely with our technical partners and experts began work in April. They have done much of the backend work preparatory to the actual swapping of network components in the days ahead,” he said. Goodluck said the massive project involving three technical partners, Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE, would be carried out at night to minimise its impact on the quality of service.
In addition, he said the exercise would be done in clusters, such that select base transceiver stations in different parts of the country would undergo simultaneous upgrade to further ensure that the negative impact of the exercise was brought to its barest minimum. The MTN chief said while there might be slight inconveniences to subscribers in certain areas, especially at night during the implementation of the project, customers would enjoy enhanced service quality upon its completion. The Chief Technical Officer, MTN, Lynda Saint-Nwafor, who corroborated Goodluck, said all legacy equipment installed in the last 10 years would be replaced with modern equipment with better capacity and flexibility.
She said MTN would also upgrade its base station power systems with environmental-friendly hybrid solution, adding that over 4,000 cell sites would be running on hybrid power system by the end of the year, up from the current 2,000 sites.