Report: Energy Efficiency, Sustainability in Mobile Communications Networks

Mobile phone with wifi icon

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by | Dec 18, 2023

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A new report from 5G Americas explains how telecommunication companies may implement energy-efficient radio access networks (RAN), optimize HTTP adaptive streaming (HAS), and support alternative energy sources to meet decarbonization goals.

Overall, the report recommends separating data growth from energy use and allowing widespread internet access while managing economic aspects of network energy costs. In terms of energy-saving efforts, the report considers energy-efficient RAN to be the most effective as it accounts for 73% of energy consumption in mobile networks.

This includes reducing idle mode consumption and using micro-sleep techniques, which deactivate and reactivate power amplifiers during idle periods. The report also suggests using radio components that are meant to be placed outdoors in order to lessen the need for energy-intensive cooling.

“Adopting adaptive capabilities based on load and radio conditions across various radio domains are essential for modern base stations and RAN sites geared towards enhanced network performance while reducing power consumption, and in turn environmental impact,” the report said.

In terms of optimizing energy consumption used for video streaming, the report emphasized the use of the LESS Accord (low energy sustainable streaming) as guidance. Providers may reportedly use traffic-shaping techniques and video optimizers to reduce energy use of HAS, the primary method used to stream video.

Report Emphasizes Key Role of Connectivity for Sustainability Efforts Across Industries

A number of connectivity-based applications have been developed for climate mitigation, reducing energy usage for buildings, and many other data-driven solutions. The report explained how building management solutions may help businesses save on costs while reducing building emissions, for example.

With rising implementation of such technologies, network traffic for 5G deployment is also increasing significantly.

As other sectors turn to renewable energy to power operations, the report recommends that communications services do the same. The report said using solar and wind energy paired with battery storage systems as well as smart building technology, which many companies have already adopted. Renewable energy may be particularly helpful in decarbonizing data centers, which account for 9% of the sector’s emissions.

“The paper underscores the importance of energy efficiency in 5G and future mobile generations, urging operators and vendors to adopt existing technical capabilities and invest in new, optimized technologies,” said Humberto LaRoche, principal engineer for Cisco. “This approach is key not only for sustainable network operations but also in enabling industries like manufacturing and agriculture to achieve greater energy efficiency through various IoT solutions.”

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