For decades, MNOs and towercos have relied on diesel generators and costly power systems to keep their remote sites online during peak hours. However, diesel generators not only emit greenhouse gasses and dirty pollutants, but they are expensive to operate and maintain. Caban Systems, a Silicon Valley technology company, is helping Latin American telecom infrastructure leaders to power their sites in rural locations. The company is replacing diesel generators and analog lead-acid batteries at cell sites with connected lithium-ion batteries and AI-enabled software, which is dramatically reducing operating costs and improving reliability for customers. TowerXchange has interviewed Caban Systems’ founder and CEO Alexandra Rasch to hear more about their innovating energy management technology that is connecting communities across the world.
TowerXchange: Could you please expand on the need for innovation within telco energy management systems?
Alexandra Rasch, Founder & CEO, Caban Systems: Every country depends on the telecommunication industry to support critical infrastructure and grow as an economy. There are many communities and millions of cell towers that are not connected to a reliable grid, making it difficult to provide service during peak hours. When the grid is unable to support critical communication service, cell sites rely on diesel generators to keep the tower operating.
In the age of AI and IoT, it seems archaic to have cell sites that are relying on technology as antiquated and dirty as diesel generators. But, that’s exactly what we found. For many operators, the problem is even more extreme: cell sites are never built because access to reliable power is not possible or too expensive, leaving some communities without access to basic communication services. This is one of the applications where our lithium-ion batteries and software-enabled energy management platform are a perfect fit to provide reliable primary power sourced by renewable energy. We saw a substantial need to bring innovative technology to the telecom industry with respect to clean energy and intelligent energy storage solutions.
TowerXchange: Could you describe the business case for intelligent power and the response you’ve received?
Alexandra Rasch, Founder & CEO, Caban Systems: Diesel generators as a primary or backup source of power are loud, dirty and an eye sore to look at but more importantly, they are expensive to operate. Every minute that a generator is running, the operator is paying for fuel, while the cost is multiplied to account for maintenance providers.
With the implementation of our lithium-ion energy storage batteries, software-enabled platform and energy-as-a-service (EaaS), operating costs are dramatically reduced. By removing the cost of diesel and maintenance operators, our customers save at least 70% of site operating costs over a 10-year term. Maintenance is conducted entirely remotely. Our technology allows customers to monitor 24×7, ensuring safety and respecting SLA agreements. The technology is what enables us to bring a powerful solution to the marketplace that is cost competitive.
Designing and manufacturing our own lithium-ion batteries and AI-enabled software has also given us a competitive edge with respect to innovation, applications and value. But that’s not why we manufacture our batteries. We find that maintaining control over our supply chain allows us to ensure clear communication across all systems and customers prefer to work with one vendor for the entire process, from start-to-finish.
We’ve received an enthusiastic response from towercos, MNOs and ESCOs, respectively. To date, our technology is operating on sites across Latin America, the Caribbean, North America and the Middle East. This has proven that there is a strong appetite for intelligent energy storage and clean power solutions.
TowerXchange: How has your business model changed in the era of COVID-19?
Alexandra Rasch, Founder & CEO, Caban Systems: Nobody could have anticipated the way in which the world has changed since COVID-19 dominated the global mainstage. While the pace of business has slowed down from the speed that it was in a pre-COVID world, we’re fortunate enough to continue to service existing and new regions.
Although it would be impossible to deny the severe economic impacts that the pandemic has had on every industry, the difference that we’re seeing is an even greater reliance on cell and internet service than before, as face-to-face meetings and travel options are brought to a grinding halt. From rural communities to densely populated neighborhoods, entire populations are forced to stay home and communicate virtually.
Now more than ever, we have a moral obligation to ensure that communities have access to reliable service and clean energy, equitably.
TowerXchange: What differentiates Caban Systems from other energy companies in the telecom business?
Alexandra Rasch, Founder & CEO, Caban Systems: There is no other energy company in the industry offering a fully integrated software enabled end-to-end platform for multiple applications from a singular vendor. We are the only technology company manufacturing our own batteries, systems, installation and O&M. Most other energy companies that provide EaaS use batteries, site controllers and software that are outsourced. This differentiator makes us the only company to offer a completely integrated energy solution that provides the lithium-ion hardware, software and renewable energy. When we founded the company, we started by manufacturing an energy storage battery designed to thrive in unreliable grids because this challenge was at the heart of the problem. In short, our offering is a single solution, intelligent technology, that ensures reliability and cost reduction while providing equitable access to clean energy.