Off-grid Namibia tests solar communications
In Namibia, one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, the only people that have access to grid electricity and mobile communication networks are those in the cities.
Extending access to rural areas is not economically viable, hampering communications networks. Base stations, required to boost network signals, often have to run on expensive — and environmentally unfriendly — diesel fuel.
As a result, rural towns have had to depend on expensive satellite linkups for phone and Internet access.
But network providers have come up with a way to power rural base stations with natural energy sources: the wind and the sun.
They have installed 28 solar panels and a wind turbine to power one mobile base station. The natural energy can be stored in batteries for up to three days, providing a reliable and cost-effective power supply. Now, even in bad weather, locals should always be able to get a mobile phone signal.
With the solar panels and turbine now fully installed, a four-month trial of the setup is underway, with mobile operators from all over the world watching closely.