Ericsson: Can we introduce 5G and reduce energy consumption?
The ICT sector is responsible for 1.4% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but has the potential for a 15% reduction in other sectors such as energy, industry and transport.
If the 5G network is deployed in the same way as previous generations, energy consumption will increase sharply. The current annual global energy cost of operating cellular networks is $ 25 billion. From both an expenditure and carbon footprint perspective, energy consumption is one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Ericsson experts emphasize that solutions should be introduced that allow operators to use as little energy as possible while managing the expected increase in data transfer and meeting the needs of current and future 5G networks.
How to break the rising energy curve?
The ICT sector is only responsible for 1.4% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but has the potential to enable a 15% reduction in other sectors such as energy, industry and transport. From a life cycle perspective, the major part of our carbon footprint comes from the electrical appliances we use, such as computers and smartphones. Power consumption will increase dramatically if 5G is implemented in the same way as 3G and 4G. Some communication service providers have even estimated a doubling of energy consumption to meet the growing demand for traffic, while improving the network and introducing 5G. This is not sustainable from a cost or environmental point of view.
It is possible to break the energy curve, i.e. lower the total energy consumption of the cellular network compared to the current level and meet the huge challenge of increasing traffic. We believe that it is our responsibility, along with other entities in the ICT industry. Thanks to our extensive research for over 20 years, we have proven that mobile broadband networks are a driver of sustainable development, economic growth and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions – says Marcin Sugak, an expert at Ericsson.
In order to break the curve of growing energy consumption in cellular networks, there are four main elements of the 5G network implementation strategy. – “Together with our customers, we have refined various solutions in order to achieve significant energy savings. Taking the first step brings immediate savings and provides data that can be used at a later stage, ”says the Ericsson expert.
Prepare the network
Upgrading network technology, even in low-traffic areas, will bring a return on investment in just three years, taking into account only the savings from lower energy use. By upgrading your network with the latest technology and replacing old appliances, you can realize new business opportunities while achieving significant energy savings. Deployments of previous generations of mobile networks were often managed by adding new devices while maintaining existing network resources. This practice needs to change.
Activation of energy saving software
Energy saving functions are already available via the Radio Access Network (RAN) and can be activated immediately. Adding a machine learning component will bring further savings. Intelligent energy management functions such as micro sleep Tx (MSTx) can reduce energy consumption by radio devices by up to 15% while maintaining the same comfort of use. 5G software has energy savings in its DNA. Its advanced features will continue to expand and network performance will increase over time.
5G construction with precision
It is important to have the right equipment in the right place. Building 5G with precision is about optimizing network performance on new 5G frequencies while keeping investment and maintenance costs within specified limits. It is possible to quickly implement 5G without the need to add additional energy-consuming devices. This means service providers can limit the growth in energy consumption when introducing 5G.
Intelligent local infrastructure management
Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, service providers can more actively operate the network infrastructure. The available energy budget and even the space itself are often limited and therefore require compact and energy-efficient solutions. – “Passive device inspection tools should be put in place, and preventive maintenance and non-contact troubleshooting should be allowed to reduce costs, energy consumption and on-site visits.
Customer cases show that service providers have reduced their plant energy consumption by up to 15% through intelligent facility control solutions. In addition, although many functions are available to optimize the active elements of the facility (i.e. radio equipment), passive components supporting the radio access network (RAN) are often omitted, although they may account for over 50% of the total energy consumption in the facility “- explains the company’s expert Ericsson.
Poland on the threshold of 5G
Ericsson equipment has been ready to work in the 5G network since 2015. This is possible by upgrading to 5G via remote software installation. The European Commission expects that by 2025 the member states will have extensive coverage of the 5G network. Ericsson is an active promoter of 5G solutions in Poland – it has implemented the first commercial 5G network in Poland with Polkomtel, 5G in the Play network, a test network in Warsaw with Orange and a 5G campus at the Lodz University of Technology. Ericsson works with operators, research and development centers, academia, start-ups and industry.
Ericsson currently has over 122 commercial 5G contracts, of which
77 are active networks operating in over 30 countries. Ericsson is also a leader in 5G standardization, with a majority stake for 4G and 5G. Considering the declarations made to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) applying the necessity filter, Ericsson is at the top of the 5G patent race. According to an analysis by the legal firm Bird & Bird, Ericsson holds the largest number of significant SEP (standard-essential patent) 5G patents in the world (15.8%).
Download the full Ericsson report “Breaking the energy curve An innovative approach to reducing mobile network energy use”: