Sustainable connectivity with high-speed 5G

April 27, 2020 | 09:00
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With high performance and low network energy consumption, 5G can be a game changer helping meet future traffic demands, and significantly addressing the energy consumption and climate challenge. Denis Brunetti, president of Ericsson Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, writes about the vast potential of 5G, and how Ericsson can ensure a sustainable approach with its innovative products and solutions.
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Denis Brunetti, president of Ericsson Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos

Is it possible to quadruple data traffic without increasing energy consumption? The answer is yes. It is possible to meet the massive traffic growth by lowering the total mobile network energy consumption from today’s level. As per Ericsson estimates, the current yearly global energy cost of running mobile networks is estimated to be $25 billion, and this energy consumption would increase dramatically if 5G were to be deployed in the same way as 3G and 4G.

Yet, 5G can be a game changer. While every previous new generation of mobile networks has increased energy consumption and carbon emissions until now, 5G is the most energy-efficient standard ever developed. Uptake is faster than expected: poised to reach 2.6 billion subscriptions by 2025, covering up to 65 per cent of the world’s population, and generating 45 per cent of total mobile data traffic globally. Thanks to the 5G standard and our development efforts, it is possible to significantly reduce energy consumption.

5G is designed to enable high performance and low network energy consumption. With it, the mobile system can be enabled to use smart sleep modes more effectively and extend coverage by using lower bands; while increasing capacity and speed with carrier aggregation. Fast and effective data transmission also enables the system to return to a low-load state faster.

Ultimately, the total 5G energy cost addition will be impacted by service provider deployment strategies and equipment choice. By modernising the network with the latest technology and replacing old equipment, it is possible to realise new business opportunities and, at the same time, create significant energy savings. The key to enabling network-wide power savings and reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) lies in building 5G networks with precision.

At Ericsson, we have adopted an innovative and holistic approach to building an end-to-end 5G with the right technologies for optimal cost effectiveness. For a start, capable hardware is essential. New multi-standard hardware platforms offer a reduced physical footprint and the latest energy-reducing technologies that contribute to more energy-efficient networks.

Deploying the latest Ericsson Radio System (ERS) solutions and dual-mode 5G Core provides immediate energy and cost savings, and can facilitate a swift move to 5G in the future with a software installation.

ERS is a complete platform to build the highest-performing Radio Access Network and offers optimal modularity to ensure the lowest TCO. All ERS equipment shipped since 2015 is 5G-ready. Having equipment on the ERS platform ensures that the network can migrate to the most efficient technology as soon as devices and services are available.

Furthermore, with Ericsson Spectrum Sharing (ESS), service providers can run 4G and 5G simultaneously on the same frequencies, without adding new energy-consuming hardware.

Operators need to build 5G with precision by optimising network performance on the new 5G frequencies while keeping capex and opex within certain limits. When complemented with unique solutions such as Ericsson dual-mode 5G Core, ERS, and ESS, a swift 5G rollout is enabled without adding any further energy-consuming hardware. This means service providers can limit energy consumption growth when introducing 5G.

Ericsson’s 5G software has energy saving engraved in its DNA. Its advanced features will continue to evolve and network efficiency will increase over time. Ericsson’s energy-saving software functionality automatically switches equipment on and off to follow traffic demand as it varies over time. Experience from networks across the world shows that these functions could significantly reduce energy costs without any need for additional hardware investments.

Overall, by using AI, service providers are able to seize the opportunity to operate site infrastructure more proactively. Ericsson’s portfolio offers tools to control passive equipment and enable predictive maintenance along with no-touch problem-solving.

With the recently launched data-driven service offering, Energy Infrastructure Operations, substantial savings can be reached through a 15-per-cent decrease in energy-related operating expenditure, a 15-per-cent reduction in site visits related to passive infrastructure, as well as a 30-per-cent reduction of energy related outages.

Integrating sustainability and responsible business practices and programmes across the company helps run operations more efficiently. Ericsson’s focus on product energy performance can help reduce total cost of ownership for operators’ networks as well as support positive social and environmental impacts.

With 31 live networks across 15 countries, Ericsson is committed to developing innovative products and solutions that enable the mobile industry to meet current and future traffic demands, while simultaneously addressing the energy consumption and climate challenge.

Ericsson has been a driving force in showing how digital technology can reduce carbon emissions by 15 per cent in sectors like manufacturing and transport by 2030. We are one of a handful of companies that have set science-based targets committed to supporting the limit of global temperature rise to 1.5°C, and to further demonstrate our leading position we have made an additional commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.

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