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Telefónica, Nokia study finds 5G is up to 90% more energy efficient

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The study established that 5G networks are up to 90% more energy efficient per Mbps than unmodernised 4G networks.

The research was conducted over a three-month period and looked at the power consumption of the RAN in Telefónica’s network.
 
Extensive testing examined 11 pre-defined traffic load scenarios that measured the energy consumed per Mbps based on the traffic load distribution.

The results highlighted that 5G RAN technology is significantly more efficient than legacy technologies when it comes to energy consumption per data traffic capacity with several hardware and software features that help to save energy.

Traffic load scenarios

The study used Nokia’s AirScale portfolio, including AirScale Base Stations and AirScale Massive MIMO Active Antenna solutions, combined actual on-site base station energy consumption readings in different traffic load scenarios. They ranged from 0 percent to 100%. The study also remotely monitored actual power consumption through the network management systems.
 
5G was designed to be a greener technology with more data bits per kilowatt of energy than any previous wireless technology generation. However, 5G networks require action to boost energy efficiency and minimise CO2 emissions arising from exponentially increasing data traffic.

There are several energy-saving features at the radio base station and network levels, such as 5G power-saving features, small cell deployments and new 5G architecture and protocols, which can be combined to improve that energy efficiency.

Global ambitions for climate change

Both companies are aligned with the ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius. In 2019, Nokia delivered zero-emission products to over 150 customers worldwide and is committed to decreasing emissions from its operations by 41% by 2030.

Apparently 46% less energy was used on average in the customer base station sites Nokia modernised in 2019 compared to those that were not upgraded.
 
Nokia and Telefónica are also developing smart energy network infrastructure and power-saving features based on machine learning and AI, and collaborating to build green 5G networks.
 
Juan Manuel Caro, Director of Operational Transformation at Global CTIO at Telefónica, said, “We are committed to supporting action on climate change and engender a sustainable culture throughout our entire company. We are proud to work collaboratively with Nokia on this project and others to address a range of initiatives including driving energy efficiencies in the 5G era.”
 
Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: “Our greatest contribution to overcoming the world’s sustainability challenges is through the solutions and technology we develop and provide. We place huge importance on this.

"Nokia’s technology is designed to be energy efficient during use but also require less energy during manufacture. This important study highlights how mobile operators can offset energy gains during their rollouts helping them to be more environmentally responsible while allowing them to achieve significant cost savings.”