Thursday, 25 February 2021 08:23

5G energy management a priority, research suggests

STL Partners director Phil Laidler STL Partners director Phil Laidler

While 5G networks can be up to 90% more efficient per traffic unit than 4G, the increased network density, heavy reliance on IT systems and infrastructure, increased network use and accelerated traffic growth add up to increased energy use.

Telecommunications consultancy STL Partners and power, cooling and IT infrastructure specialist Vertiv reckon telcos should address these challenges by adopting energy efficiency best practices across their networks, and by encouraging their customers to adopt 5G-enabled services to reduce energy consumption and the associated emissions.

STL predicts global 5G traffic will overtake 3G/4G by 2025, so sustainability should be a high priority for operators.

Enterprises agree: 40% of respondents said energy efficiency should be the first or second priority for telcos when deploying 5G networks.

Why Energy Management Is Critical To 5G Success [registration required] identifies various best practices that can mitigate these issues, and they fall into the broad categories of network technology, facilities infrastructure, infrastructure management, organisation and evaluation, and working with others.

"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 Vertiv vice president for global DC power and outside plant Scott Armul.

"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."

But 5G sustainability isn't a job for telcos alone. The report recommends a more holistic, societal approach to curbing energy use and emissions.

"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 STL Partners director Phil Laidler.

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

Savings are there for the taking. For example, the report says the manufacturing sector could achieve up to US$730 billion worth of benefits by 2030 through the use of 5G to enable advanced predictive maintenance and automation.

Transportation and logistics could get up to $280 billion in benefits by 2030 from the application of 5G to advanced driver assistance, connected traffic infrastructure, and automated home deliveries.

And healthcare services could be improved for as many as one billion patients by 2030 thanks to 5G, while reducing emissions through higher asset utilisation, reduced patient and clinician travel, and higher clinician productivity.

"Asia Pacific will be the leading region in 5G technology adoption with 1.14 billion subscribers expected by 2024, according to GlobalData," said Vertiv Asia senior director for telecoms Danny Wong.

"While this is truly exciting for the region, the challenge to balance efficiency with customer expectation and demand is something that must not be ignored. Investing in energy efficient solutions is one approach to achieving sustainability and must be part of the operators' long term plans in deploying 5G networks."

STL Partners is hosting the webinar Clean Energy: Critical For 5G's Success? featuring experts from Vertiv on 2 March 2021.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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