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Plugging in solar-powered towers

Plugging in solar-powered towers

The high-powered schmo­ozing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has yielded a project to install solar-powered cell phone towers in India. Vihaan Networks (VNL) and lithium ion battery maker Boston Power annou­n­ced that VNL will test the small-scale telecom stations with Boston Power’s batteries. VNL had originally developed the system with lead acid batteries. The communications-based stations, called World­GSM, are designed to operate entirely from a few solar panels and are not connected to the grid. The Boston Power batteries can power the tower, which can be set up in half a day, for up to three days, without sunlight. VNL calls the WorldGSM towers a “microtelecom” product because they are designed for the billions of people who live in rural areas outside the network’s reach. VNL says these customers typically spend less than two dollars a month on cellular phone service. Coupling storage with cell phone base stations makes sense in many places where connecting to the grid is a challenge or adds significantly to the cost.

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