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Research highlights looming 5G infrastructure energy efficiency challenge

Written by Tue 23 Feb 2021

Operators must factor in advanced energy management capabilities to create a sustainable next-gen network infrastructure 

New research from Vertiv and STL Partners has outlined the practical challenges of ensuring the IT powering 5G networks is energy efficient.

While estimates suggest 5G networks can be up to 90% more efficient per traffic unit than their 4G predecessors, the new report warned next-gen networks consume far more energy than previous generations and called on operators to prepare for tough sustainability questions.

Escalating power consumption is down new 5G capabilities that will see increased network density, reliance on IT systems and infrastructure, and increased network use and accelerated traffic growth.

The report’s authors said telecom operators can address these challenges through the adoption of energy efficiency best practices across networks, and by encouraging customers to adopt services, themselves enabled by 5G, that use its capabilities to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption.

Suggested remedies include deploying hardware and software designed and operated for efficiency, in addition to hardware and software that enables measurement, monitoring, management, optimisation and automation of network energy usage.

“Telecom operators making meaningful energy and cost reductions are doing so by evaluating the entire ecosystems around their network operations – people, objectives, infrastructure and partners,” said Scott Armul, vice president for global DC power and outside plant at Vertiv.

“Because of the reliance on IT to enable 5G applications, a high degree of collaboration will be required across operators, OEMs and infrastructure providers, and customers to ensure deployments are optimised and every possible efficiency is pursued.”

The report also recommended taking a “holistic”, full lifecycle view of costs and investments across the network and embracing innovative and non-traditional commercial models, standards and collaboration.

“Operators are deploying 5G networks to grow new revenues. This growth will come from new connectivity and applications enabling operators’ customers’ own transformation journeys,” said Phil Laidler, director at STL Partners.

“To be credible, informed partners for their customers, operators must lead by example. Energy strategy is a great place to start.”

Top priority

40% of 500 enterprises surveyed for the report said energy efficiency should be the first or second priority for telecom operators when deploying 5G networks.

And the report highlighted manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and healthcare as key sectors that could reduce energy consumption through the use of 5G-enabled services.

It claimed the manufacturing sector could achieve up to $730 billion worth of benefits by 2030 through advanced predictive maintenance and automation.

Transportation and logistics could save up to $280 billion through advanced driver assistance, connected traffic infrastructure, and automated home deliveries.

While 5G will allow the healthcare sector to provide improved access to healthcare services while also reducing emissions through higher asset utilisation, reduced patient and clinician travel, and higher clinician productivity.

Written by Tue 23 Feb 2021


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