Cream of the crop to power mobiles

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By  Published  October 20, 2006

The recent growth of mobile communications across the African continent has raised fears at the environmental impact of these networks, specifically in the power needed by energy generating stations to run mobile phone base stations in rural areas.

Ericcson believes it has the answer, reports Cnet.

It has linked with South African cell phone operator MTN for a pilot project to replace the fossil fuels that power the network with sustainable biofuels.

And what will these biofuels be made from? Palm, groundnut, pumpkin seeds and jatrop- ha, that’s what.

These crops will be grown near the base stations by local farmers.

The idea is that it will cut dependency on fossil fuels and reduce the cost of fuel transportation.

Local facilities will process the crops into fuel.

Ericcson will be controlling the farming methods to make sure the crops are sustainable and do not need more forests to be cleared.

Ericsson and MTN will start a project scheme in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation yet only 25 % is connected to the electricity grid.

“We’re planning to replicate this in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.

India and Bangladesh have also expressed interest,” claimed Ben Soppitt, program manager for the GSMA — the global trade association of mobile operators.

It would also make the mobile industry the world’s first to have alternative energy at the core of its operations, he added.

If the project is a success, that is.

Success wil depend on how compliant local farmers will be to the idea of their crops being used as fuel in the oil-rich state.

 

The future past


If the idea of palm and pump oil-fuelled mobile networks sounds fanciful and a tad futuristic, consider how the world in 1950 viewed the planet 50 years into the future.

US publication Popular Mechanics has taken a look back at its own predictions for the year 2000 from that year.

Through the lives of the fictional Dobson family who live in the metropolitan suburb of Tottenville, we discover that everything in their house is synthetic.

Joe Dobson has done away with razors and instead uses a depilatory on his face.

Jane Dobson meanwhile gives her house a quick clean by turning on the hose.

Since everything is synthetic or waterproof, it all cleans easily.

Not everything is quite so fanciful.

The Dobson’s television is connected to the telephone and the radio receiver, allowing the family to see the person they are speaking to on the set — in a similar fashion to the video phone available now.

And Jane Dobson does the majority of her shopping on the television.

See the idea of the internet, or at least remote shopping, was thought of as long ago as 1950.

Sony is gloomy


On the other hand, in 2006 consumer electronics is dead in the water, according to one Sony chief.

Nobuyuki Idei, chairman of the advisory board of Sony and chief corporate advisor, warned delegates at the recently-held Etre 2006 event in Barcelona, Spain, that the Jap -anese consumer electronics industry was dying, according to newswire The Inquirer.

He pointed to the use of television as a portal to the internet as the tipping point and advised consumer electronics firms to change themselves.

Idei spoke in favour of soft alliances, such as Sony’s link with Ericsson for mobile phones and with Samsung for LCD screens.

“You cannot do everything by yourself. If you do you end up damaged,” he claimed.

According to Idei, the PlayStation 3 console was late because Microsoft was not a technology company like Sony.

He explained that Sony and IBM had made a next-generation CPU but Microsoft had only bought a ‘normal’ chip from Big Blue.

So blame the opposition for being first-to-market with an “inferior” product, then. Once again, Sony’s tech-bias has raised its head. Who said Betamax?

Talk not cheap


Be careful who you talk about on the internet, especially if it is libelous.

A jury in Florida, US, has awarded US$11.3m in costs and damages to a woman after a former acquaintance accused her of being a crook, a con artist and a fraudster on the internet, reported the Guardian.

Sue Scheff filed the lawsuit in 2003 claiming she had been subjected to 10 months of criticism on the internet from Carey Bock.

Bock had posted her comments on Fornits.com, a talkboard used by parents of troubled teenagers.

Scheff, who runs an educational firm in Weston, Florida, had helped Ms Bock to remove her children from a special school in Costa Rica.

She claimed Ms Bock reacted in a belligerent manner after she refused to disclose confidential information for a documentary.

The award is believed to be the largest verdict of its sort relating to postings on blogs.

Scheff accepted she would get little of the $11m but said “But this award is vindication.

I hope it does make people think twice about what they post on the internet.

When people post they are writing from emotion, and it can be very damaging.” Ms Bock did not attend the final hearing.

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