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Intelligent Energy to power tower sites of Microqual

MUMBAI: Telecom infrastructure provider Microqual Techno and UK-based fuel-cell maker Intelligent Energy have teamed up to offer tower sites that will come with power generation units to help telecom operators run their network equipment without depending on costlier diesel, the companies said.

Mumbai-based Microqual had overcome competition from Viom Networks to win access to state-run Power GridBSE -2.79 % Corporation’s 12,200 power-transmission towers in four states to mount telecom equipment, ET had reported.

The rentals for these towers would be 20-30% cheaper than the prevailing market rate, Microqual chief Mahesh Chowdhury said. Telecom tower rentals typically range from Rs 15,000-30,000 a month per slot.

Intelligent Energy, which makes hydrogen fuel cells, will set up modules to generate power on all Microqual towers and maintain their management. Microqual has to find tenants for the towers. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. People familiar with the deal said Intelligent Energy made an upfront payment to Microqual.

Reliance Jio Infocomm, the Reliance IndustriesBSE 0.39 % unit that is expected to launch data and voice services later this year, and the Indian unit of Vodafone have expressed initial interest to use sites being offered under the Power Grid-Microqual deal.

Offering power supply with towers will likely make such contracts more acceptable for telecom operators.

The Indian telecom industry uses more than 200 crore litres of diesel every year to run power generators at their network base stations. About 20% of this fuel is estimated to be lost because of pilferage.

Also, many of the towers are in remote locations, making fuel supply a difficult and costly task for operators. Intelligent energy, which will incur a bulk of the capital expenditure under the deal, recently raised $68 million from Singapore’s sovereign fund GIC.


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