By John Walko 12.18.2020
Some good news emerged earlier this month regarding 5G networks. Nokia and Telefonica have been monitoring various different load traffic scenarios, measuring the energy consumed per Mbps in the radio access network (RAN). They now report that it is “up to” 90% more efficient than with legacy 4G networks.
That’s important because, by one estimation 5G ecosystems could be responsible for a 160% increase in power requirements by 2030 when compared with existing cellular networks.
Nokia and Telefonica attribute the “significant” improvements that they achieved to a number of software and hardware features at both the base stations and in the networks themselves. They reference small cell deployments, new 5G architectures and protocols, and significant advances in the use of artificial intelligence as amongst features that must be deployed and combined to really improve the energy efficiency of wireless networks.
The trials over the past three months — based on Nokia’s AirScale portfolio of base stations and massive MIMO antennas — in Telefonica’s network show that 5G carries more bits per data than any previous generation cellular technology. Hence, this makes 5G natively greener.
Of course the companies wisely caution that a lot more work needs to be done in this area to further enhance energy efficiency and minimize the emission of carbon dioxide.
That, unfortunately, is the logical and inevitable corollary of the huge increase expected in data traffic with 5G networks, and with RAN site deployments.