Telcos could save up to 70% in power consumption by optimizing 5G hardware, Sustainability

Telcos must adopt new approaches to optimize the hardware they use if they are to achieve the goal of dramatically reducing their power consumption and associated costs as power-hungry 5G networks reach the mainstream. developed market scale.

That’s the main point made in a new report from research firm ABI Research, which suggests that if operators act wisely and optimize the hardware used in their systems, it will lead to lower power consumption of up to 70% and therefore reduce energy bills.

Although 5G networks are 90% more energy efficient than 4G in terms of energy consumption per unit of traffic, they are very likely to cause “a dramatic increase in energy consumption” due to the implementation of massive implementation of MIMO and the level of network densification.

ABI Research has calculated that a 5G base station needs three times the power to provide the same coverage as a 4G network, which, in turn, leads to high energy costs and capital expenditures for users. operators.

“5G power consumption depends on the radio configuration, hardware and traffic load, and more than 70% of the power consumed is in the radio access network (RAN),” said Fei Liu. , mobile network infrastructure and 5G industry analyst at ABI Research. “A 5G RAN consumes up to 2.7 kilowatts of power with 64T64R mMIMO configurations under typical conditions, while an LTE radio consumes about 0.8 kilowatts.”

The major contributors to power consumption are power amplifiers (PAs), baseband processing modules, digital intermediate frequency (DIF), and transceivers. The analytics company recommends the use of gallium nitride (GaN) for mMIMO, which can result in more than 50% higher power efficiency and therefore lower power consumption and operating costs.

Another suggestion is the deployment of liquid-cooled sites that are 30% lighter and half the size of standard active air conditioning units. Another advantage is that they require no maintenance, which equates to “significant cost savings”, Liu said.

Telecom operators can also use the new generation of chipsets, which are estimated to provide between 30 and 70% in energy savings. “A new architecture can also reduce power consumption, improve coverage and improve performance,” she added.

Network providers are also investing in other “innovative” hardware technologies such as new materials and designs to improve energy efficiency. “Operators should deploy the new generation of equipment and adopt efficient cooling technology to reduce equipment-level power consumption,” Liu advised.

In recent years, a number of telecommunications operators have considered ways to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and being more energy efficient. Cost reduction is also a powerful driver. Some of the steps telecom operators have already taken include switching to 100% renewable energy sources, embracing circular economies across their operations, and committing to company-wide goals. industry standards defined by ITU, GeSI, GSMA and SBTi. (See ICT Industry Agrees on Landmark Science-Based Path to Net Zero Emissions.)

– Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, TelecomTV

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