Idea’s Sustainability Initiatives
Telecom services are recognized world-over as an important tool for the socio-economic development of a nation. It is one of the prime support services essential for rapid growth and modernization of various sectors of the economy. In India too, the telecommunication sector has revolutionized the way we communicate and share information, thereby helping over 800 million Indians stay connected, over the last two decades.
The telecom industry globally is cognizant of the fact that it needs to lighten its carbon footprint. And, in the Indian telecom sector, Idea is leading the search for green energy options.
Idea Cellular, part of the Aditya Birla Group which is India’s first truly global conglomerate, is one of the oldest players in the Indian telecom industry and has played a key role in the development of mobile telephony, particularly in rural India. As part of a socially responsible corporate group, Idea has and continues to adopt policies, and business strategies to effectively integrate emerging environmental, social and economic considerations.
Whether it’s through conserving energy, recycling, or finding innovative solutions to environmental and social challenges, Idea is committed to being a respectful, responsible and positive influence on the environment and the society in which we operate. Efficient power management, infrastructure sharing, use of eco-friendly renewable energy sources, leveraging the latest in technology to reach out to a large audience in most energy efficient manner such as video and teleconferencing, smart logistics, etc. are some of the best practices in our network infrastructure and day-to-day business operations, to ensure a clean and green environment.
Network Infrastructure initiatives
In our effort to give back to the environment and reduce the collective carbon foot print of the telecom sector in India, Idea pioneered the concept of ‘Shared Telecom Infrastructure’ services, along with a few other industry leaders in the wireless space. This initiative is committed towards continuous innovation endeavors; optimization of future tower rollouts; and enhanced operational efficiencies leading to a substantial reduction of carbon foot print.
The Indian telecom industry’s first collaborative, cross-industry consortium to encourage the development of environmentally sustainable mobile networks was also led by Idea, and supported by the GSMA. The pilot, aimed at developing biofuels as a source of power for wireless networks in rural India which are located beyond the reach of the national electricity grid, was conducted in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The learnings of the research were later handed to the infrastructure company which owns the towers, to explore broad basing of the program.
In a bid to reduce energy consumption by our BTS, Idea chose OD BTS (outdoor BTS) as our preferred BTS type in 2007. Currently, over 40% our total BTS portfolio comprises of OD BTS, which has resulted in reducing our conventional energy consumption by about 25% as compared to the ID BTS (indoor BTS). Efforts are also on to re-deploy ID BTS to OD BTS sites, in some locations, which will further reduce energy consumption at these sites by 25%.
Idea has explored a Solar Hybrid Solution for running our BTS in parts of rural Bihar. We plan to install Solar Hybrid sets at 200 sites by end of FY 12. This will reduce the fuel consumption of power generator from running for 15-16 hours to less than 5 hours a day in these locations.
Idea is also part of the Fuel Cell project, initiated by our Group. The project aims at exploring the usage of Hydrogen as an alternate energy source to power mobile base stations. Currently, a trial project, if successful, this program has the potential of reducing the usage of a regular power generator to Zero.
Additionally, we are working on a range of other projects all of which are aimed at experimenting alternate energy sources to fuel base stations and reduce operating expenditure for the company.
With a subscriber base of nearly 10 crore, we have an opportunity to influence a large mass of people by promoting green initiatives through our various communication programs and customer service initiatives.
It was Idea which germinated the thought of ‘Use Mobile, Save Paper’ in the minds of millions of mobile users in India, with its aggressive yet thought provoking campaign. Idea designed the campaign to highlight numerous ways of saving paper, and thereby saving the green cover necessary for the health of the planet, by using a range of mobile based value added services in day-to-day activities to replace paper.
Idea was amongst the first mobile operators in India to promote v-Top up recharges for prepaid users, in a major way. Soon, this led to the virtual phasing out of paper-based recharge vouchers, which has ultimately resulted in saving tonnes of paper which would have otherwise been used in making recharges available to millions of mobile users across the country.
Another recent and ongoing initiative is e-Bill which is being consistently promoted by Idea to ensure that more and more users opt for this service, and contribute towards saving paper.
Breaking all conventions, Idea has now conceived another innovative program which is aimed at reducing plastic consumption on a large scale. In a major overhaul of its logistics management, Idea has now introduced the ‘PICO’ card, which is a half-size plastic card that bears the SIM card, in a new connection kit. For decades, new mobile users have been handed out welcome kits by operators which carry a large size plastic piece with the SIM card inserted in the box. Idea has now become one of the first operators, globally, to introduce the new PICO card which is expected to save over 90% of plastic used in manufacturing regular cards. Considering that Idea adds about 2 million new connections every month, this initiative would result in substantial reduction of plastic usage.
As a company listed on BSE and NSE, Idea has a base of over 360,000 shareholders who we communicate with, on a regular basis. All company communication to our shareholders and investors, such as Notices, Annual Reports etc. are sent through e-mail rather than printed copies through post, thus dramatically reducing our printing and mailing costs while making a positive impact on the environment.
Employee based initiatives
Idea’s HR operations have all been enabled online for its over 7,000 employees, to ensure that there is minimal paper documentation. This has again helped us save tonnes of paper that would have been used in day-to-day HR related transactions and communication.
We use smart ICT solutions such as teleconferencing, videoconferencing, web chats etc. for internal communication amongst employees to minimize travel.
We believe that Idea employees are the flag bearers of the organization. They enable the organization to realize its mission and goals, and meet commitments. Idea employees have played a key role in keeping our pledge to do our bit for the environment. ‘Bus Karo’ is an initiative centred around a large group of Idea employees who commute to office, daily in their own cars. Through the program these employees use a pooled bus service for office commuting in peak hours, everyday. One such bus potentially lessens 30 cars from everyday traffic jams, saving over 1200 tonnes of Carbon emissions per annum.
Driven by its socially conscious parent Group, Idea stays committed to the cause of giving back to the environment. We will continue to drive our efforts towards environment sustainability by reducing carbon foot print and energy consumption.