Green telecom the way forward for Tata Teleservices

Green telecom the way forward for Tata Teleservices

Overall, Project Optimus was born out of the desire to have a positive and growing impact on environment with intent to reduce the Op-expenses and carbon foot print of the company. We realized that a majority of what we intended to achieve could be achieved with control of diesel consumption.

Saji Mathew, Vice President and Head Network Implementation and Infrastructure Management, Tata Teleservices talks to Reshmi AR on the company’s intent to reduce carbon footprint. Read more to find out…

Tell us about Project Optimus?

Overall, Project Optimus was born out of the desire to have a positive and growing impact on environment with intent to reduce the Op-expenses and carbon foot print of the company. We realized that a majority of what we intended to achieve could be achieved with control of diesel consumption.
Tata Teleservices Limited is a Pan India telecom operator with operations across 18 circles covering over 450,000 towns. Our telecom services are offered through an approx 50,000 mobile towers and sites, which are leased from Infrastructure providers.
The network energy cost of these telecom towers is one of the major components amounting to about 30% of the total network cost. Energy cost consists of two components-electricity charges of grid power and diesel consumption for running Diesel Generator (DG) set when there is no grid power. The cost of running a Diesel Generator (DG) is much higher than the cost of electricity provided by electricity board.
The energy costs depends on many parameters including but not limited to the type & power consumption of the electronics, the number of tenants at the site with their consumptions, the efficiencies of the passive Infra elements, Type of the telecom equipment like indoor (ID) or outdoor type (OD), the quality and availability of grid power, the available battery backup hours, the ambient temperature, per KWH grid unit rate and the Diesel per liter rate.

A cross functional team called the Applied Research Team was formed to work on various areas to reduce the operational expenses of the network. Project Optimus was built with the aim to conserve energy: this energy can be conserved by converting an indoor site to outdoor site i.e. by removing the air conditioner from the site while continuing to keep the BTS inside the shelter. To make this possible, a free cooling unit (FCU) needs to be installed for removing the shelter heat instead of cooling by air conditioner.

What were the challenges faced during the execution?

The challenges for executing this project were many. A few of them include...
Space availability for Indoor to outdoor conversion – A lot of times these towers is placed in areas where conversion of units from indoor to outdoor is not possible. The lack of space hinders conversion. presently we have been deploying the solutions on ground based sites and also exploring to get the same implemented on roof top sites as there is a challenge for the infrastructure providers to obtain necessary clearance from landlord/respective authority due to additional space occupancy
Limited options available for operators at distributed IP controlled tower sites as all IPs are not ready to go full hog due to perceived issues from their partner vendors and landlords.
Criticality of equipment inside the shelter – Critical equipment inside the shelter often prevents conversion of a site. The towers are technology intensive investment and any decision on conversion has to keep in account the criticality of equipment placed
Solar power for its base stations - We use solar energy at 50 sites across the country but face a number of challenges. Solar in its pure form is not the best alternative because of constraints like availability of shadow-free south-facing space, high capex for standalone solar system and has limited utility on cloudy or non-sunny days

• Is it still running? What are the savings that have accrued to the company from it?

Project Optimus is still running and in addition to itwe have been exploring new green initiatives in optimizing consumption of energy from grid and DG sets.
Since 2010 our project has helped us achieve an annualized OPEX savings (energy cost ) to the tune of Rs.98+Crs. and annualized carbon savings to the tune of 80K TCO2e.

Are the solutions that you have suggested scalable?

We have tested our solutions across the country in different operating environments. The results have been very encouraging and scalable.

Do you think reducing carbon footprint will in any way affect the operational costs?

The objective of Project Optimus is Optimization of Network Operation Cost, Reduction of Carbon foot print. We strongly believe that reducing our carbon footrpint has helped us reduce our overall operational cost. Furthermore we were constantly evaluating new ideas and incorporating various changes in existing initiatives the challenge was always how to better existing product considering the changing telecom technical-commercial requirements. The periodic reviews helped us to work out best possible solutions as years progressed for improving on the carbon footprint for TTL and analyzing cost-benefit equations for the new solutions generated.

How do you intend to position Tata tele as a socially responsible brand?

Throughout its history, TATA group has nurtured policies and projects that reflect a conviction that growth is inextricably linked to the well-being of our ecosystem - employees, business partners, local communities and the environment. To us, Sustainability is not optional but an ethical imperative.
Furthermore as a responsible Tata Group company, Tata Teleservices is committed to reducing its Carbon Footprint and recognizes that being a telecom service provider, we are indirectly responsible for generating some quantities of e-waste; both on account of building business (i.e. increase in the number of cell phone users) as well as conducting business operations (computers, peripherals etc). In order to minimize the adverse impact of our overall business operations on the environment, we have tied up with Attero Recycling and TES-AMM, both authorized by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, to responsibly dispose e-waste.
By Reshmi AR
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