Yossi Cohen, COO and executive vice president of Ericsson North America, breaks down the role of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in enabling climate action and the impact 5G will have in breaking the energy curve in mobile networks.
- first things first: Is it possible to roll out 5G without drastically increasing energy consumption?
Cohen: The short answer is yes, 5G is the most energy-conscious standard with network energy performance fully integrated into the design of this next generation mobile technology.
The 5G standard includes two key technology enablers for improved energy performance:
- ultra-lean design It leverages Smart-Sleep Mode technology to ensure that radio frequency signals are transmitted by radio hardware only when necessary.
- Massive MIMO Increases network coverage and provides higher capacity which requires fewer sites to be installed. Helping to reduce the total energy consumption.
These enhancements provide expanded network coverage in a sustainable and resource-efficient manner, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership for service providers.
well but: Breaking the energy curve will require mobile network operators to take a holistic approach that addresses all parts of the mobile network.
- Ericsson believes that as a leading Information Communications Technology solutions company it is our responsibility to provide innovative solutions to make this a reality.
2. Background: What is the historical performance of the ICT sector with network energy consumption?
Cohen: Data traffic has grown rapidly, with a 300-fold increase over the past 10 years, but the global network energy consumption of service providers has increased by only 64%.
- This suggests that energy use growth is not directly linked to traffic, but to the rollout of new radio equipment and additional spectrum bands.
Going forward, providers have the opportunity to reduce energy consumption with 5G deployment, but only if they take a holistic approach to network deployment that prioritizes energy efficiency at every level.
3. Looking Ahead: Is 5G an energy-efficient standard? Compared to previous generations, what opportunities do 5G networks offer to reduce energy consumption?
Cohen: Technological innovations have enabled mobile networks to support more traffic while consuming only marginally more energy.
In 5G, spectrum efficiency (i.e. information rate per cell over a given bandwidth) has improved by an astonishing 200% compared to 4G.
- This is important to prevent electricity consumption from increasing at the same rate as traffic.
Additionally, the 5G standard offers key advantages that previous generations did not have:
ultra-lean design 5G allows networks to be available when needed, rather than available all the time, and the time between mandatory transmissions can be 100 to 800 times longer than 4G.
- It provides much better support for implementing energy-saving features.
Massive MIMO Reduces energy consumption to provide the same network capacity even when fewer sites are required.
4. Strategy: How can network power performance be improved while maintaining user experience?
Cohen: Network energy performance can be improved by holistically addressing all parts of the network.
Mobile network operators can start their energy savings by taking the first step that not only allows for greater savings, but also provides insights that can be implemented later.
5. Diet: Can you talk about Ericsson’s innovative approach to reducing network energy use?
Cohen: There are four key elements to this approach, which can be deployed in any order to secure network energy performance.
- Create network: To modernize the network with latest energy efficient technology.
- Activate energy-saving software: Sleep mode functionality can reduce radio equipment energy consumption without compromising user experience.
- Build 5G With Accuracy: Having the right tools in the right place is important.
- Operate the site infrastructure intelligently: By using artificial intelligence (AI), service providers can operate site infrastructure more actively.
6. Takeaway: What benefits will 5G and connectivity bring to the planet and society?
Cohen: The ICT sector accounts for 1.4% of the global carbon footprint and consumes about 3.6% of global electricity consumption.
- This makes ICT a unique field in that it has a relatively limited footprint and benefits many people around the world using its services and solutions, with 70% of people using it.
According to research by Ericsson, ICT solutions can reduce global carbon emissions by up to 15% by 2030.
- But to realize the full potential of the ICT sector, we need to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks and use technologies such as AL/ML to take climate action.
Effect: In a recently released paper, the CTIA reports that 5G enabled use-cases are projected to contribute 20% to US emissions reduction targets.
The use of 5G and cellular technology can enable decarbonization of key areas such as:
- Electricity and power supply: 5G enabled networks can enable the transition to digitized, decentralized and decarbonized smart grids.
- Production: The Ericsson 5G Smart Factory is able to increase productivity per employee by up to 2.2X and reduce manual material handling by up to 65% using an industrial IoT platform.
- transportation: A strong 5G innovation platform is needed to further develop electric vehicles powered by renewable electricity – which are critical for decarbonisation.
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