Energy savings with 5G New Radio (NR)

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In the context of the telecommunication world, power consumption and resulting energy-related pollution are becoming operational. A research report study by GSMA-ZTE indicates that the telecoms industry currently consumes an estimated 3% of the world’s energy. This is expected to increase three-fold by 2025 if telco service providers fail to apply energy-efficient practices. Another UK-based consultancy STL Partners report states that 5G technology could save over 250 million tonnes in CO2 emissions in 2030 alone, primarily by using wind and solar energy over fossil fuels.

The 5G platform is a vision meant for innovations. It includes a large ecosystem that will consist of a range of industries connecting virtually anything, anywhere supporting various deployments and topologies, and with the exponential increase in newer devices and use cases, demands higher network capacity. The 3rd generation partnership project (3GPP) telecommunications standards defined how 5G New Radio (NR) edge service and 5G NR network infrastructure will transmit data and make a case that it is best suited to handle denser network deployments, deliver increased energy efficiency, and reduce both operational costs and environmental impacts.

Power Savings:

The 5G NR standard has been designed based on the traffic activity in radio networks and the need to support sleep states in radio network equipment. A joint study conducted by Nokia and Telefonica points out that 5G networks are nearly 90% more energy efficient per traffic unit than the earlier 4G networks.

5G NR is designed to save power considerably by putting the base station into a sleep state when there is no traffic and consumes less energy in this duration. The more components that are switched off, the more energy will be saved. Overall, these factors allow deeper sleep periods for a longer time; this will significantly save network energy consumption per bit of data.

5G NR enables higher data rates and lower latency, allowing user data sessions to be terminated faster, resulting in the associated energy consumed by the device per transmitted bit.  In 5G NR, the time between mandatory transmissions is as long as 20ms in stand-alone mode and 160ms in non-stand-alone mode.

5G NR requires far fewer always-on signalling transmissions in the frequency domain. This is often referred to as the ultra-lean design of the 5G NR physical layers, which helps in reducing energy consumption and interference.

Wherever possible, 5G reduces or switches off such signals as and when required, meaning that the handset and base station must optimize the signal on the fly.

5G NR uses OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing), combines multiple sub-channels within a channel, and is known to be both robust against interference and efficient in its use of frequencies, and highly flexible, as different numbers of subcarriers can be added to increase a channel capacity, or numbers reduced to provide much lower-power, lower-bandwidth options.

5G NR Key Metrics:

  • 5G NR supports adaptive bandwidth, letting devices move to a low-bandwidth, low-power configuration as and when required
  • 5G NR has an advanced concept of beamforming that helps manipulate the signals fed /received from complex antennas to create beams in space that focus power in a particular direction.
  • The scope of deployments is wide macro-hotspot deployments, device-device deployments, multi-hop mesh.

As part of the 5G power-saving strategy, Ericsson has developed a Machine Learning (ML) algorithm that can predict, observe, and respond to the data traffic created by the network. Ericsson, in its findings, found ML sleep mode management witnessed savings in energy consumption after six trials, and MIMO radio units deployed at various sites in Portugal saw a resultant nearly 14% of the energy consumed was saved at each site.

Key Use Cases:

The scope of 5G NR use cases is widespread. It is enabled to support smart city infrastructure and traffic management, Internet of Things (IoT) applications in Industrial Automation, Augmented reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR), IoT applications in drones, Massive IoT applications -wearables and mobile and the list is simply getting added.  Illustrated graphic below represents a detailed spectrum of applications that 5G NR supports:

5G NR Applications

End Note:

In conclusion, energy efficiency is one of the key metrics in 5G NR and performance metrics of latency, throughput, and reliability are equally important.  Interestingly, 5G NR adoption occurs fast, with major Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE ranked first and second, followed by Ericsson and Nokia in the third and fourth positions, as per data released by market research firm Omdia.  The same report on 5G NR revenues indicates Huawei leading, followed by Ericsson, ZTE, and Nokia. The APAC region is speedily moving to embrace 5G with China already in the first quarter of 2021, has built a total of 819,000 5G base stations, accounting for more than 70% of 5G base stations deployed globally. Read more on how STL provided millions of users in the US access to high-speed 5G services through STL’s full-stack 5G NR solutions or contact us know how we can help transform your enterprise with next-gen 5G services

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