5G must lead in the fight against energy use

Improving the energy efficiency of 5G networks is on the agenda of providers and network operators, according to panelists gathered during the session on Energy Efficiency Trends in 5G.

“As the deployment and adoption of 5G rapidly changes the world, the telecommunications industry has an opportunity to lead the world in demonstrating that energy consumption can be reduced,” said Miriam Tuerk, CEO of Clear Blue Technologies.

But at the network level, which is very likely to support existing legacy technology, the drive to reduce power consumption becomes more complex. “You need to look at the 2G and 3G assets you have within the network,” warned Mats Pellback Scharp, Ericsson’s sustainability manager. “We’ve seen 20% of the traffic consume 80% of the power across large network footprints where voice and data traffic has been and will remain low.”

According to the Ericsson executive, networks must now be built to be “5G ready” and any upgrade strategy must be carefully considered. “It might be more energy efficient to build a new 5G network. But any approach is not easy and requires hard work.

On a different level, Tuerk referred to how cellphone users in Africa have taken a very different approach to changing their handsets. “The charging cost for the average user is high given their disposable income. To keep this cost as low as possible, users will choose 2G data because it consumes less power.

Alexandra Rasch, CEO of Caban Systems, highlighted the notable progress the automotive industry has made over the past 10 years in moving towards electric cars. “The telecommunications industry must seek to do the same if it is to achieve real reduction in energy consumption.”

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