PARTNER CONTENT: At MWC22 Barcelona, Unitel Angola provided a broad overview of the operator’s green initiatives and how it has worked with vendor Huawei to deliver more energy-efficient, intelligent, low-carbon networks.
Speaking to Mobile World Live at Huawei’s extended reality studio in an exclusive interview, Jose Mavungo, Operations and Maintenance Department Director of Unitel Angola, opened up on how its long-running partnership with Huawei and specifically its green cooperation project was delivering OPEX savings, pushing site digitalization and decreasing energy usage.
José Mavungo started by explaining that Unitel and Huawei had now worked together on energy for more than a decade.
From 2010 to 2011, Unitel used Huawei’s solar solutions for the first time in its backbone sites and this cooperation expanded five years later, with the companies working together to deploy 40 smart sites in total.
From 2019 to 2022, Mavungo said large-scale green energy reconstruction was performed across old sites, and now more than 1,000 sites had been modernized by Huawei’s PowerCube solutions over the period.
Through this work, Mavungo revealed some of the key aspects and successes of the green energy project, with diesel generators significantly decreasing by a total of 16 percent after the site reconstruction efforts. On the remaining diesel generators, operating time in total is reduced by 75 percent, and OPEX savings have reached more than 45 percent.
Through site digitalization the Unitel maintenance team can effectively locate site problems, implement pre-maintenance of site problems which reduces site visit times, “greatly improving operation and maintenance efficiency and site reliability,” Mavungo said.
Operating as a private mobile phone company and mainly competing with Movicel, Unitel Angola covers all the country’s municipalities and had almost 12 million mobile connections as of Q1 2022 according to GSMA Intelligence.
As part of its green initiatives, in total there are three solutions the two companies are deploying to drive more energy-efficient networks: Advanced Hybrid Power; CloudLi and NetEco.
The Angola Unitel executive explained Advanced Hybrid Power provides green and low power supply and backup solutions for sites. Through the deployment of a smarter, powerful platform, green solar solutions and smart lithium batteries can replace traditional diesel generators, thus enabling the companies to achieve zero diesel operations and reduce energy-related OPEX.
On to CloudLi, Mavungo said it was an intelligent energy system consisting of local battery management, IoT networking, and cloud architecture. The system enables lithium batteries to achieve simplified maintenance, high efficiency, security, and reliability while also simplifying site evolution, reducing OPEX, and providing better protection for the network.
Last but not least, NetEco operates as a digital tool optimizing the scheduling of power supplies, sites, and networks, reducing OPEX through automatic operation and maintenance, making energy efforts visible and manageable.
In addition, NetEco provides remote inspection, fault diagnosis, and operation maintenance suggestions to reduce unnecessary site visits and related costs.
A recently published GSMA Intelligence report pointed out that today’s sustained cost pressures and commitments to net zero in support of the 2015 Paris Agreement had made energy efficiency a strategic priority for many operators worldwide.
This is certainly a long-term play for operators, with mobile data traffic continuing to grow dramatically through the rise of LTE and expansion of 5G networks, meaning energy consumption is also consequently increasing.
Therefore, major operators are taking steps to ensure they are quantifying network energy consumption and efficiency levels and taking appropriate actions to address high usage.
For Unitel Angola and Huawei, there are also clearly longer-term goals around green initiatives.
Mavungo said the vendor was indeed a long-term partner, and the companies would go forward with their cooperation by exploring development in three key areas.
Firstly, the duo’s goal is to modernize existing sites to reduce OPEX.
“We can set up a dedicated team with Huawei to continue the reconstruction on existing sites, monitor and optimize the sites, avoid the poor results due to lack of correct maintenance and ensure continuous OPEX reductions.”
Secondly, Mavungo is keen to keep up the momentum in modernising green energy for existing sites, reduce diesel generator usage and ultimately optimize the OPEX.
“In select sites with high OPEX, we can introduce solar energy, lithium batteries, and NetEco systems to reduce the cost of fuel, site maintenance, and battery replacements,” he explained.
Finally, Unitel Angola is working with Huawei to plan and test low-carbon energy for new services such as mobile 5G and fixed-wireless 5G in residential areas, to reduce the CAPEX of investment in such areas, including outlay for new energy equipment and replacing old systems.
“We appreciate Huawei’s efforts, suggestions and contributions. We hope that Huawei continues to provide more use case cases and advanced innovations in the future so that our two teams can work together and achieve a green and low-carbon target network, ensuring the sustainable evolution of the network,” concluded Mavungo.
View the full video interview here.
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