MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2008 (STAR) By Katherine Adraneda - The practice of “green initiatives” has invaded many local industries, even the way a mobile network runs its cell cites.

Smart Communications Inc. has been cited as the top mobile network operator in the world for wind-powered cell sites, besting 24 other mobile operators across the developing world that use renewable energy sources, according to a survey of the GSMA Development Fund.

The GSMA said their research has found out that Smart is the “most advanced” mobile network operator globally “in terms of wind-powered base transceiver stations.”

“Among the leading mobile network operators we surveyed for our Green Power for Mobile program, Smart emerged as the operator that has most extensively deployed stand-alone wind-powered cell sites,” said Dawn Haig-Thomas, director of the GSMA Development Fund.

Smart deployed the country’s first wind-powered cell site in 2006 on Malapascua Island in Cebu.

As of Aug. 30, a total of 49 Smart cell sites across the country are running on wind power and wind-solar energy.

The mobile network company said renewable energy sources now serve as a reliable, efficient and economic alternative to fuel in powering generator sets used for cell sites in remote locations.

Smart said among the benefits of using renewable energy sources is reduced operational cost, even as it is able to increase voice and data coverage in areas, which are beyond the reach of power grids.

The GSMA Development Fund was founded in 2005 to identify and implement new uses for mobile communications to help people with limited access.

One of its focus areas is energy, but it recently launched the Green Power for Mobile program in a bid to provide mobile operators with expertise to support the deployment of base stations that use renewable energy

Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno said they recognize the importance of developing and tapping renewable energy sources to power their off-grid base stations, especially in the wake of stepped-up efforts to protect the environment and mitigate impacts of climate change.

In fact, he revealed that Smart is eyeing to have 74 cell sites in different areas nationwide that will be powered by renewable energy by the end of the year.

Of this, he added that 47 cell sites would be run by wind energy while 27 cell sites would be “hybrid” or using both wind and solar energy.

Of the 74 Smart cell sites, 17 would be located in Northern Luzon; 21 in Southern Luzon; 25 in the Visayas; and 11 in Mindanao.

To date, Smart has more than 6,000 cell sites nationwide.

“Smart is happy to be part of this effort. As the Philippines’ leading wireless services provider, we recognize that this initiative is the right thing to do from both a business and environmental standpoint. We hope more telecom operators will join this effort to reduce carbon emissions and promote more climate-friendly practices,” Nazareno said.

Meanwhile, Mario Tamayo, head of the Smart Network Service Division Group, disclosed that 50 more “green” base stations are scheduled for deployment next year, as part of the company’s efforts to maximize the use of available natural resources.

Ramon Isberto, head of the Smart Public Affairs Group, said the use of alternative energy sources to power cell sites is just one measure Smart is taking to respond to the global call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

“We are encouraged by the results of the GSMA Development Fund survey as we continue to explore ways to adopt and implement environment-friendly measures in our operations,” Isberto said.  

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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