Reducing energy consumption is one of the main corporate priorities for Claro in Brazil and the company has started an ambitious auto generation initiative to reduce its operational cost and improve efficiencies. The operator has already developed nine green energy plants to power its operations and when the initiative is completed, 80% of its total energy consume will be sustainably auto-generated by the MNO. TowerXchange has spoken with João Pedro Correia Neves, Director of Financial Support to find out about the project’s details and discuss Claro’s infrastructure strategy in the country.
TowerXchange: João Pedro, could you please introduce your role at Claro Brasil?
João Pedro Correia Neves: My role consists in offering financial support to our technical operations, marketing and customer care as well as managing payments for our infrastructure fees. Additionally, I deal with our infrastructure vendors and providers and manage the company infrastructure assets.
My main goal is to improve efficiency across all company processes through simplification and automation. Moreover, the company is strongly committed to implementing digital solutions in our infrastructure in order to optimize our resources and improve sustainability. Our department is playing a key role overseeing the implementation of this initiative.
Specifically, we aim to improve our towers’ efficiency, reduce our energy cost and minimize our rental fees. We are implementing a digital initiative in our sites that aligns with those corporate goals.
TowerXchange: How many towers does Claro operate in Brazil and what is the company infrastructure strategy?
João Pedro Correia Neves: At the moment we have around 14,000 actives sites and our priority is to improve the profitability of those assets. During 2019, we will continue to build new sites but the current priority is to reduce the operating cost of the towers and facilitate access to other operators in order to increase revenue. We are trying to develop and implement a simple process within the company that will allow other MNOs to access our sites. We are promoting communication with other operators in the market and exploring collaboration possibilities and potential synergies to optimize the use of technical solutions and minimize the costs associated with the maintenance and operation of our infrastructure. Regarding towercos, we have a very good relationship with them and we will continue to use their infrastructure.
TowerXchange: What are the main challenges that the company is facing when deploying and maintaining its infrastructure in the country?
João Pedro Correia Neves: The main challenges are related to energy cost and security, two variables that have historically been big issues for the Brazilian telecom industry.
In order to reduce energy consumption, we are developing a project for our low voltage sites and we have already started the construction of our own power plants that allow us to autogenerate and meet the necessary demand of those sites.
Additionally, for medium voltage and bigger capacity sites, we are exploring all the energy purchase options in the free market and we are also betting on renewable energy.
On the other hand, we are working closely with all the company technical areas and developing different efficiency initiatives. On this note, consumption control is key and we are using telemetry to monitor it. We are also implementing several analytic and comparison tools to determine what would be the ideal consumption in each site and observe which specific aspects can be improve in each tower to reduce that energy cost.
Regarding security, we have a specific department that deals with that and we work very closely with them. As it happens in most Latin American markets, we suffer from vandalism and theft, which is a big issue for the company. We are using modern access control and surveillance systems that guarantee theft reduction and allow us to efficiently control and monitor our assets.
Claro Brasil’s various auto-generation projects
TowerXchange: Claro Brasil is one of the industry leaders in renewable energy integration to power its towers. Could you talk about your energy strategy, the role of renewables and your goals?
João Pedro Correia Neves: We are indeed pioneers in developing alternative energy in Brazil and we have now the biggest distributed renewable generation project of a private company in the country. As mentioned above, we are developing several renewable generation plants to power our operations. We have a specific department that develops and oversees that initiative and we are collaborating with different national and global leaders.
We have already developed different wind, solar and hydro generation solutions as well as using biogas in order to secure power supply for our network. Our own development on this initiative is allowing us to long-term plan our energy strategy as well as generate energy in a sustainable and affordable manner.
By the end of the project, 80% of the total of Claro’s energy consume in the country will be generated and managed by the company.
TowerXchange: On top of tower deployment, is Claro considering new solutions and technologies such as small cells, DAS, fiber and other alternatives?
João Pedro Correia Neves: Fiber is already a pivotal element for us to increase capacity and is playing a key role in both the company’s current and future growth plans. We are probably the operator with the largest fibre investment and portfolio in the country and we are now connecting all our towers.
We are also open to explore all those technologies and solutions and our investments are always driven to deliver the best solutions and offer an efficient telecom network to our customers.
Learn more at the sixth annual TowerXchange Meetup Americas on July 9-10, 2019 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, in Florida. A unique networking opportunity with over 250 leaders of the CALA telecom tower industry. It has sold out for the past five years so make sure you book your place here. Please quote TXAM19INSTWR.
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By Pablo Crespo, Head of Research, Americas & Asia, TowerXchange
April 3, 2019