Energy Savings with 5G New Radio (NR)

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Energy Consumption by Telecommunications.
  2. 5G NR designed to save power.
  3. Key Use Cases for 5G NR.

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is 5G NR?

How to Handle 5G and Energy Consumption of the Telecom World?

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.

Key Metrics of 5G NR:

  • 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.

What are the Key Use Cases for 5G NR?

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


What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is 5G NR?

5G typically refers to the fifth generation of wireless technology. NR, commonly known as New Radio, is a standard developed by the 3GPP Group (Release 15 being the first version introduced back in 2018) outlining the technology required to harness the newly-available millimeter-wave frequencies. The two frequency bands in which 5GNR operates are Frequency Range 1, i.e., Sub 6GHz band (410 MHz to 7125 MHz), and Frequency Range 2, i.e., millimeter-wave (24.25 to 52.6 GHz). Over 4G LTE, 5G NR provides better spectrum utilization, faster data rates, hardware efficiency, and improved signal processing.

From a deployment standpoint, we have Non-Standalone Mode(NSA), Dynamic Spectrum Sharing(DSS), and Standalone Mode (SA). The initial deployments of 5G NR are based on NSA standards, meaning the existing 4G LTE network will operate on the control plane, and 5G NR will be introduced to the user plane. This particular standard was introduced by 3GPP, keeping in mind the industry’s push to faster 5G services rollout while utilizing the existing 4G LTE infrastructure currently in place. On the other hand, operators are also implementing Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to accelerate the deployment cycle, reducing costs and improving spectrum utilization. In this standard, the same spectrum is shared between the 5G NR and 4G LTE, multiplexing over time per user demands. Lastly, we have the Standalone Mode (SA), which moves towards a complete 5G based network where both signaling and the information transfer are driven by a 5G cell.

In the future, 5G will enable new services, connect new industries and devices, empower new experiences, and much more, providing mission-critical services, enhanced mobile broadband, and various other things.

a) Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) Applications: High device connectivity, High mobile data rates, and Mobile AR & VR applications
b) Ultra-reliable, low-latency communications (uRLLC)Applications: Autonomous vehicles, Drones, Data monitoring, Smart mfg.
c) Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)Applications: Healthcare, Industry 4.0, Logistics, Environmental monitoring, Smart farming, Smart grids

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