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Telecom operators told to cut carbon emissions by 17% in next five years

According to reports, the department of telecom (DoT) has exhorted mobile phone companies and tower operators to step up investments in green energy technologies that help reduce carbon emissions, a call that comes at a time when the industry has gone past a rough patch and its profits are growing.

“It is high time telecom service operators effectively reduced carbon footprint as overall profitability of the sector has improved lately,” Rita Teaotia, special secretary, DoT said at an industry event recently.

The industry has benefited from growing data revenues and reduced competition, which has allowed operators to raise effective call rates by cutting down on free minutes.

Market leader Bharti Airtel more than doubled its net profit in the quarter to September, riding on an improved voice business and increased use by subscribers of its pricier data services while India’s third largest carrier Idea Cellular reported a near 70% jump in net profit during the period.

Vodafone India, second largest operator in the country saw a 12% rise in operating profit during the three months, propelled by higher data usage and rising call rates.

An interministerial panel was recently constituted to “actively monitor” carbon reduction levels by telecom operators. The panel will focus on net carbon reduction, regardless of technology designated to meet India’s green policy targets. The operators are required to cut carbon emissions by 17% in the next five years by reducing diesel consumption.

DoT has also made it mandatory for these companies to switch 50% of all cell towers in rural areas and 20% in urban areas to hybrid power by 2015. Hybrid power has been defined as a mix of grid supplies and renewable energy based on solar, wind, biomass or fuel cells. By 2020, operators will need to run 75% and 33% of cell towers in rural and urban zones, respectively, on hybrid supplies.

DoT, Teaotia said, is also committed to deployment of green energy technologies like solar for powering about 1,863 towers to boost mobile coverage in areas affected by Left-wing terrorism.

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