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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India releases the Recommendations on ‘Approach Towards Green Telecommunications’

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released its recommendations on “Approach Towards Green Telecommunications”.

With increasing pervasiveness of mobile phones and the widespread adoption of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) worldwide, the ICT sector is expected to contribute around 3% of the global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by the year 2020.

While globally the telecommunication sector contributes around 0.7% of the global GHG emissions, the corresponding figure in India is 1%. While this figure might appear to be not so significant in absolute terms, the rapid growth of telecommunications envisaged over the next decade calls for an effort to contain and reduce the carbon footprint.

Carbon emissions in the telecom sector will be mainly in three areas, namely network operations, manufacturing of telecom equipments and disposal of telecom waste.

The recommendations in this approach paper are delineated below:

(i) Measures to green the telecommunication sector should be an integral part of the proposed National Telecom Policy. The policy should underline the need to green Telecommunications and set the broad direction and goals.

(ii) In the next five years, at least 50% of all rural towers and 33% of the urban towers are to be powered by hybrid power (Renewable Energy Technologies (RET)+Grid power) by 2015, while all rural towers and 50% of urban towers are to be hybrid powered by 2020.

(iii) All telecom products, equipments and services in the telecom network should be Energy and performance assessed and certified “Green Passport [GP]” utilising the ECR’s Rating and the Energy ‘passport’ determined by the year 2015.

(iv) TEC should be the nodal centre that will certify telecom products,equipments and services on the basis of ECR ratings. TEC could either appoint independent certifying agencies under its guidance or will certify the same through their Quality Assurance teams. TEC should also prepare and bring out the ‘ECR Document’ delineating the specifics of the test procedures and the measurement methodology utilised.

(v) By 2015, all mobile phones should be free of brominates and chlorinated compounds and antimony trioxide in accordance with the e-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2010, proposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to be followed by all telecom manufacturers, as and when notified.

(vi) All mobile manufacturers/ distributors should be required to place collection bins at appropriate places for collection of e-waste – mobile phones, batteries, chargers etc. The e-waste should be safely disposed or recycled as per the prevailing standards. The collection, storage, transportation, segregation, refurbishment, dismantling recycling and disposal of all e-waste shall be in accordance with the procedures prescribed in the guidelines by the Pollution Control Boards from time to time.

(vii) All service providers should declare to TRAI, the carbon footprint of their network operations in the prescribed format. This declaration should be undertaken after adopting the prescribed formulae and procedures. The Declaration of the carbon footprints should be done twice in a year i.e. half yearly report for the period ending September to be submitted by 15th of November and the succeeding half yearly report for the period ending March to be submitted by 15th of May each year.

(viii) All service providers, through their Service associations, should adopt a Voluntary Code of Practice encompassing energy efficient Network Planning, active infra-sharing, deployment of energy efficient technologies and adoption of Renewable Energy Technology (RET) including the following elements:

(a) The network operators should progressively induct carefully designed and optimized energy efficient radio networks that reduce overall power and energy consumption.

(b) Service providers should endeavour to ensure that the total power consumption of each BTS will not exceed 500W by the year 2020.

(c) Sharing of the infrastructure using passive as well active methodologies should be done to minimize the eventuality of locating new sites within the vicinity of existing towers. [say within 200m, in Urban areas & within 2 Km,in Rural areas]. Service providers should plan to have at least 10% of their sites actively shared by the year 2014.

(d) A phased programme should be put in place by the telecom service providers to have their cell sites, particularly in the rural areas, powered by hybrid renewable sources including wind energy, solar energy, fuel cells or a combination thereof. The eventual goal under this phased programme is to ensure that around 50% of all towers in the rural areas are powered by hybrid renewable sources by the year 2015.

(e) Service providers through their associations should consensually evolve the voluntary code of practice and submit the same to TRAI before the end of July 2011.

(ix) All Service providers should evolve a ‘Carbon Credit Policy’ in line with carbon credits norms with the ultimate objective of attaining full carbon neutral footprints in rural areas and with 50% carbon neutral footprint in urban areas by the year 2020. The base year for calculating all existing carbon footprints would be 2011, with an implementation period of one year. Hence the first year of carbon reduction would be the year 2012.

(x) Based on the details of footprints declared by all service providers, service providers should aim at Carbon emission reduction targets for the mobile network at 8% by the year 2012-2013, 12% by the year 2014-2015, 17% by the year 2016-2017 and 25% by the year 2018-2019.

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