[LINK] If Cell phone companies cooperated
kim at holburn.net
Mon Feb 14 11:27:35 AEDT 2011
> YOUR cellphone signal is registering four or five bars, which is good news for subscribers but cold comfort for the network footing the exorbitant bill. To ensure that all subscribers get a strong signal even when few people are using their cellphones in the dead of night, every network in a neighbourhood is broadcasting at full strength from its own base station antenna to the few subscribers who are actually awake.
> This needless energy drain could be stopped if cellphone providers could agree to share their antennas on the many occasions when the networks aren't busy. Traffic is sparse for voice calls outside morning and evening commuting times and in the early evenings when wireless internet usage peaks.
> Michela Meo at the Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy, and Marco Marsan at the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain came up with an idea for getting networks to cooperate. They ran a simulation in which cellular towers ran software that could progressively switch off their antennas as cellphone activity decreased. Eventually, all the networks could share just a single antenna. The software would then power antennas back up as demand rises (Computer Networks, DOI: 10.1016/j.comnet.2010.10.017). Apart from installing the software on towers, all that is required for the scheme to work is wider use of existing technology that lets cellphones switch from network to network. They estimate that operators could slash annual energy use by up to 20 per cent this way.
> That is a saving well worth making, say the researchers, because the 4 million cellphone base stations around the world cost the industry around $10 billion per year in energy bills, as well as releasing 59 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
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