Telcos' carbon footprint: TRAI may seek reduction, green tech soon

MUMBAI: Telecom regulator TRAI is seeking to come out with a consultation paper that would review issues related to reduction in carbon footprint for the telecom infrastructure that includes mobile towers. A TRAI source said the green telecommunication discussion topics are expected to be finalised over next few weeks after a reference from the DoT (Department of Telecom.)

(Owing mainly to several policy reforms, telecom sector investments in India meanwhile are expected to reach Rs 68,000 crore (approx US$ 10 billion) this fiscal year, according to telecom secretary J S Deepak, which is approx a 670 per cent increase since FY16.)

DoT had asked TRAI to review the targets that had been stated earlier with regard to percentage of towers to be powered by hybrid energy in a time-bound manner, and the methodology of calculation of carbon footprint from the telecom networks, including base transceiver station (BTS), the TRAI source said, PTI reported.

It said that the consultation paper would be the next step in the regulator’s previous recommendations of 2011 on the subject. TRAI had recommended to the government to reduce carbon footprint by mobile operators, which was accepted by the government, and the latter had issued directions with regard to targets through use of green technologies.

However, the telecom operators had concerns about the capex related to conversion of BTS into green towers through the use of hybrid energy and other means, the source pointed out. The new consultation paper would review methodology of calculation and the milestone (of carbon footprint).

TRAI had, in 2011, sought industry views on issues such as -- how should the carbon footprint of the telecom industry be judged; how should carbon credit policy be evolved, and the time-frame for implementing.

It had sought views on issues such as what proportion of non-grid power supply to towers in rural areas could be anticipated to be through renewable sources of energy, and a relevant metric for certifying a product as green. It had also sought from the industry an estimate of the carbon footprint of the mobile, fixed and broadband networks.

TRAI had, in the paper, noted that the growing infrastructure required more electricity. Part of the power came from the grid and remainder through burning of fossil. Both sources contributed to negative eco effects.

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