back to article Greens: Telcos must share cell towers to save on CO2

The Green Party has published a report calling for cell networks to share equipment, saying that "competition between mobile phone companies is wasting almost 300 GWh a year due to duplication of telephone network equipment". Three hundred gigawatt-hours annually is approximately one per cent of one per cent of the UK's energy …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And that's why...

    ....they won't get into power..

    "The Green Party says that if it were in charge of the UK, energy demand would be significantly reduced by policies such as those advocated in Better Together."

    Great so they are for putting ruddy great turbines in the areas of outstading natural beauty, or do they propose tiday barriers all around the country, potentially killing off millions of animals that depend on those conditions?

    Don't forget they have to compensate for the shut down of nuclear power stations.

  2. matt
    Thumb Up

    OK so 300GW aint that much but

    have they added in all the tedious hours councils' planning and control departments spend each year debating new masts?

    There's got to be a few more GWs there too!

  3. AC

    and that's why

    no-one votes for the green party, they are bunch of fucking wankers.

  4. Gerrit Hoekstra

    TRUE 100% coverage at last?

    Never mind the CO2 impact - it's an evil conspiracy in any case; we are all going to die horribly of dioxins from diesel cars and lead from batteries off 'leccy cars. In the mean time, I just want to be able to use my moible everywhere and not have the countryside defaced by 4 adjacent cell towers that are bizarrely "blended in" to look like giant coconut palms, when one tower could do that serves all telcos, including mine.

    Now that the mobile goldrush is over, it remains a mystery why the telco's haven't on their own accord started to talk to one another and rationalize a common infrastructure.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge


    Presumably if they *did* share the towers, they'd still have their own cell kit on the shared tower (unless someone's going to accept the loss in capacity). Since it's the kit that uses the 'leccy rather than the tall pole it's stuck on, the saving would be, er, bugger all.

    But there'd be fewer unsightly masts, so they'd be *seen* to be doing something, which is the whole object of the exercise if you're a politician.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What we need!

    What we need is LESS redundancy in comms infrastructure!

  7. Al

    Low hanging fruit with the stroke of the pen.

    .01% of a very big number is still a big number.

    Most utilities use shared infrastructure. So it sounds like a good idea to me.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The Green Party says that if it were in charge of the UK, energy demand would be significantly reduced by policies such as those advocated in Better Together."

    But they are not in power are they? And they know full well that they are unlikely to be in power for a very long time. So they can make ridiculous statements like this without having to back them up. If by some freak they do end up in government in a few years time and inevitavably fail to keep these promises they can always tell us things have changed and blame intervening governments for the fact that they totally failed to deliver.

    Of course NuLabour got so used to being in opposition and making promises that they couldn't possibly keep that they kept doing it when they finally came to power. The real problem there is that they are still carrying on as if they were in oposition and making promises that don't add up. Did anybody actually believe the promises about economic growth in the budget?

    Sticking to the Greens' silly promise. We could rely entirely on renewable energy could we? What percentage of our power requirement is currently met by renewables? Even if they cut our demand by 50% they'd still have a pretty big shortfall to make up.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vote Green!

    Their energy policy may be just as stupid as Labour, but it is cheaper and there is some hope that the greens will get a clue eventually. I do not see any chance of the Lasertive or Conbour parties ever improving.

  10. Hairy
    Dead Vulture

    And your problem is?

    Makes sense to me, less masts, a little tiny bit less energy, more coverage... Can someone please explain why this policy makes the greens foolish or is it just El Reg's lazy journalism and institutionalised bias that anything an environmentalist says must by definition be bad in much the same way the greens bleat about nuclear power... Sort it out...

  11. Chris Miller


    If you keep the existing logical network structure, then you'd still need separate aerials, network kit, backhaul links etc. even if the masts were shared. So the savings would be considerably less than claimed.

    Even if you went back to the days of (effectively) a single provider (and those old enough to remember the days of GPO telephony will know how well that worked) you would still need to provide nearly as many cells to meet the total capacity, so the savings would be correspondingly reduced.

  12. michael

    less masts <> les energy

    just like shareing road ducting <> less cables

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good solution wrong problem

    I think that the idea of sharing masts is actually quite good and appears to have been succesfully implemented in other countries. From a society point of view i cannot really find any reasons for why every company should have their own towers to cover one and the same area. I mean why should there be seven masts in close proximity where I live instead of one. I still have a very bad reception at home so I am better of using the old school wired phone instead. And as long as we also have cable connection to households we have some redundancy and this should be satisfactory for the average person.

    Unfortunately the argument presented by the greens in this case are rather dim however so that in its own right is a shame as they obviously have not done their research very well.

  14. simon

    Uhh, not quite

    Mobiles output the minimum amount of RF required to communicate with the mast, so if there are less masts then your average distance to a mast is going to increase - your handset will output more RF and your battery will need charging more frequently.

    Now you need to figure out what the total extra power use is on the handset side, deduct from the network side savings and decide if it's worth the effort.

    Good way to move the cost of power from the provider to the consumer though.

  15. David Pollard

    They've got a point

    The use of yearsworth of the Blackpool Tramway deserves an entry in the Reg list of standard units or measure.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Hairy @Al

    Where's the empirical evidence? If they're assuming that we could shut down 4 networks and therefore they would not be using power then they're way off the mark.

    Assuming all the networks are about 1/2 as loaded as they could be, you could only turn off 2 of them without causing a capacity constraint. Not being able to call each other means more people get in the car for meetings and uses more energy.

    ""The Greens' analysis states that the recovered 300 GWh is a third of the power required to run the London Underground"" (plus power for lights, ventilation, escalators etc)

    In other words, 5 'inefficient' networks providing service to over 70 Million phones use around 1/4 of the power requirements to shift 3 Million Londoners around. So turning off the Tube would save 4 times the energy, annoying only 4% of the population. Sounds like '"low-hanging fruit" to me!

  17. Henry Wertz Gold badge


    Big problem with that is when your house happens to be in a dead spot.. if the carriers have seperate sites, you pick the one that covers your house. If they all share the same sites, you have coverage from NO ONE. This already happens to a few people here in the states.. some big tower with like 6 or 7 providers on it. Oh, you're house is in a valley or wrong side of a hill from that tower? No coverage, from anybody.

    On the other extreme, US Cellular, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint here in Iowa City can't seem to share ANYTHING. It's ridiculous to have 2 or 3 huge towers within 100s of feet of each other, with seperate racks of equipment, etc. for each one.

  18. Andrew

    Good news for the mobile operators?

    Now that we're prohibited from competing in terms of coverage, we can all do away with our rural networks and concentrate on the profitable cities. Joe public hasn't got a leg to stand on as "we're only doing what we're told and saving the planet".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Next in the News

    The Green Party says that if it were in charge of the UK, energy demand would be significantly reduced by policies such as those advocated in Better Together

    You'll all be living back in caves and great sod mudhuts and won't be needing any of those fancy leccy things you have now.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    some replies..from a Green Party techie...

    Worth reading the actual report as they have taken in to account the points raised above-

    Teecee - savings are real - idea is to share some of the kit too - it can and is already done (on a voluntary basis). The point is to make it mandatory.

    Chris Miller - your points have also already been taken in to account in the calculations.

    Simon - no, usually today you only connect to one network (unless you are visiting from abroad)so average distance will be the same.

    @Hary@Al - obviously you couldnt just turn of networks all day (maybe at night, if roaming was possible.) The report assumes the remaining network would be expanded.

    The real 'low-hanging fruit' is that there will soon be an auction of a new 800MHz band - so now is the time to decide to built ONE SHARED NETWORK.

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