Namibia fires up green mobile network

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Namibia fires up green mobile network

New phone network powers itself.

A new mobile phone network in Namibia is the first in the world to power its own base stations in a deployment that is teaching the rest of the world some lessons in sustainable technology.

The base stations use a combination of wind power and solar panels to power not only the base station itself, but an electric fence around the unit, a weather station and a modem to send back regular reports.

"It is totally self-sufficient, and the situation is only going to get better," Eduardo Conrado, vice president of marketing at Motorola, which built the network, said at 3GSM in Barcelona.

"WiMax base stations use much less power than GSM, so this kind of set up could well become the norm."

The base stations come with a 6KW wind turbine and a solar array three metres by six, tilted 26 degrees north to maximise solar output.

The electricity generated is stored in a bank of deep discharge lead acid batteries which should last two to three years before needing replacement.

After a four-month trial the system will be reassessed in light of the data the weather centre collects to see how the alternative energy system performs in a variety of weather conditions. The data will be used to design the next generation of stations.

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