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Mobile industry requires to be aggressive on energy efficiency

The mobile industry requires to set itself aggressive targets within energy efficiency in order to reduce consumption as demand appreciates.  

The industry’s own Next Gen Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) cautions in a white paper put out today that 5G tech is considerably more energy efficient than 3G or 4G, but escalating usage will ramp up cumulative energy utilization, particularly in base stations. 

“Cellular data traffic is predicted to witness growth six fold between 2018 and 2024 in emergent economies, and by three fold in developed markets over the same period,” states the report. “In 4-years from now, by 2025, there are predicted to be 100 billion connections, which includes 40 billion smart devices.” 

The report, Green Future Networks: network energy efficiency, cautions that “the most challenging aspects of a mobile network, in energy consumption terms, are the radio base stations which are representative of approximately 57% of the utilized energy.” 

NGMN Alliance CEO Anita Dohler stated: “To continue enhancing the energy performance in addition to minimizing the global networks energy consumption, vendors and operators are given encouragement to put a strong concentration on the solutions identified by our Green Future Networks project.” 

She called for a “path to zero watt at zero load for upcoming future network generations”, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) “to intelligently coordinate and optimize more accurate decisions for activation and deactivation of the sleep-mode and shut-down features, as well as on-demand network dimensioning”. 

The report has undergone compilation by executives from operators like Bell Canada, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Turkcell, in addition to vendors like Ericsson, HPE, Huawei and Intel, and research experts from King’s College London and TNO. 

Orange’s Laurent Leboucher, SVP of innovation networks, demonstrated confidence that the domain will become more energy efficient. “Tomorrow, networks will be greener by design,” he stated. “Today, Orange is already working hard to reduce energy consumption and minimize the carbon footprint of its networks, making ongoing progression, through its research initiatives and operational deployments.” 

However, he stated, “this requires to be an industry move and this is where the NGMN Alliance plays a strategic part in unification of the industry.” 

The report identified an array of initiatives that industry should adhere to, which includes leveraging the spectral efficiency of the 5G air interface, shutting off hardware when not required – that pathway to what the NGMN Alliance refers to as “zero watt at zero load” – and the harnessing of renewable energy, smart batteries, and effective/efficient power supplies. 

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