Biofuels power India’s rural mobile networks

Indian mobile operator Idea Cellular, Ericsson and the GSM Association’s Development Fund have teamed up to develop biofuels as a source of power for wireless networks in rural India.

In a pilot project in Pune, Maharashtra, the three organisations will begin using biofuels to power mobile base stations located beyond the reach of the electricity grid.

The first phase of the project, which is testing the feasibility of non-edible plant-based fuels, such as cotton and jatropha, is nearing completion. The second phase of the project will entail setting up a supply chain using locally grown crops to produce biodiesel to power between five and 10 base stations in the Maharashtra region.

The goal is to have these base stations powered by cotton or jatropha by mid-2007.

The Indian government is encouraging companies in India to adopt biofuels and India has the potential to become a leading exponent of this alternative power source.

‘As GSM operators expand their network coverage into new areas, one of the biggest challenges is to overcome operational issues associated with the lack of basic infrastructure,’ said Mats Granryd, managing director, Ericsson India. ‘Through this initiative, we are also involving local communities in the wireless revolution and taking the benefits of technology to the masses.’