If Cisco’s $475 million acquisition of Intucell this week tells us anything, it’s that we should be paying attention to the Israeli mobile infrastructure startup scene. Coincidently another Israeli radio networking company emerged this week that has a lot in common with Intucell, but rather than optimizing cell performance, it’s optimizing network power.
Tel Aviv-based eVolution Networks revealed its first customer this week, announcing that pan-Caribbean mobile operator Digicel is adopting its Smart Energy Solution (SES), a set of technologies that allows a carrier to power down its towers when not in use.
It sounds like a simple idea, but it’s not an easy one to implement. Mobile networks are designed to deliver their full capacity at a moment’s notice in order to handle the unpredictable patterns of the cellphone-wielding public. Consequently most base stations remain at full power whether it’s rush hour or the wee hours of the morning.
eVolution’s technology constantly monitors, analyzing its radio coverage characteristics as well as daily traffic patterns. Based on that information it decides which base stations in which places can safely be powered down at night or during other off-peak hours without sacrificing coverage. As traffic patterns change, SES changes the mix of cells staying online and off.
Though Digicel runs networks throughout the Caribbean, Central America and in the Pacific Rim, its Jamaica network was the first to get the upgrade. Digicel began testing the platform in early 2012, and fully activated network-wide in October. After three months of operations, Digicel estimated eVolution cut its radio network energy consumption by 23 percent (though eVolution said it can boost savings up to 35 percent in some cases). Digicel believes it can save up to $1.4 million annually in electricity costs, by reducing its power consumption by 2.8 GWh while keeping 1.5 kilotons of CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere.
In the last few years, all of the radio vendors have been prioritizing energy consumption. They’ve drastically lowered the wattage of their base stations, and have introduced “sleep mode” features that allow them to power down when traffic is low. But it’s going to take decades for that newer infrastructure to replace the old 2G and 3G networks – some of which are over a decade old – that populate the world today. eVolution certainly isn’t going to lack for business if carriers start seriously prioritizing their energy footprints.
eVolution, now two years old, has raised $4 million from Breslau Capital Partners. While Digicel is the first carrier to commercially implement its technology, the startup said it is in talks with several other large Tier carriers worldwide, all of whom are suffering from high energy bills.