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Trai extends industry feedback deadlines again on ways to cut telco carbon emissions

According to reports, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has for a second time extended the deadlines for stakeholder comments and counter-comments on its discussion paper on ways to reduce carbon emissions in the telecom industry and computing carbon footprint in mobile networks.

The telecom regulator has now sought comments on the discussion paper by April 3 and counter-comments by April 17. It had originally sought comments and counter-comments by February 13 and February 27 respectively, and had initially extended the deadlines for the same to March 14 and March 28 on the industry’s request.

Trai, however, said “no requests for any further extensions shall be entertained” in a media statement Tuesday.

In its discussion paper, titled “Approach towards Sustainable Telecommunications”, dated January 16, Trai had estimated that the carbon emission level from mobile operators had jumped by over 70% over the past two-three years, and in 2014-15 it was pegged at 58.3 million tonnes. Carbon footprint is the extent of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Trai, these numbers underscored the urgent need to adopt new technologies to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in the mobile industry to ring in an energy-efficient telecom sector. More so, since only 90,000 of the total 4.5 lakh telecom towers in India were diesel-free sites as on December 2016, it had said.

“Going green is also a business necessity for telcos”, Trai had said, since energy costs accounted for a whopping 25% of total network operations costs.

It had also invited industry suggestions on the need to involve third-party auditors for running checks on such emissions.

The government’s green telecom policy unveiled nearly five years ago requires mobile carriers to migrate 50% and 20% of their cell towers in rural and urban areas, respectively, to hybrid power by December 2015, and as much as 75% and 33% by December 2020.

Hybrid power is a mix of grid supplies and renewable energy based on solar, wind, biomass or fuel cells. In so far as carbon emissions go, telcos had been mandated by the telecom department to target 12% and 17% reductions by FY17 and FY19, respectively.

In its discussion paper, Trai has also invited suggestions on suitable formulae to compute carbon footprint stemming from grid power supply and diesel gensets.

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