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Painting networks green with end-to-end 5G

2020.01.21 By Kang Yu, Wang Yun

The arrival of 5G networks is happening at a time when debate around climate change is dominating global headlines. With more than 50 operators already having launched mobile and fixed 5G networks, one of the key messages at the 2019 Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) was how the 5G-powered digital economy should be green.

We believe that the heart of this green economy is the efficient use of resources by society based on low-carbon policies and green innovation. We can then promote well-being and inclusivity while protecting the sustainability of natural systems.

Highlighting the work the operator community has undertaken, GSMA Chief Technology Officer Alex Sinclair noted in his keynote speech at MBBF how more than 50 operators have signed up to reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. The initiative aims to develop a climate action roadmap and identify ways for the industry to reduce the amount of carbon gas compounds it releases.

Many operators have thus agreed to start disclosing the environmental impact of their business activities, including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, LG Uplus, MTN Group, Spark New Zealand, Sunrise, Telus, Vodafone, and Zain. 

The GSMA-led roadmap will also include development of an industry-wide plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a target outlined by the UN’s Paris Agreement.

GSMA CTO Sinclair believes that operators can also “do a lot for other verticals to help make them more efficient by enabling new use cases that allow companies to monitor their consumption of resources.”

Environmental benefits

The CEO of Europe’s first 5G operator Sunrise, Olaf Swantee, highlighted multiple use cases in his keynote speech at MBBF. Swantee sees a huge opportunity for 5G to make farming even more effective and efficient and reduce its environmental impact, giving the example of how 5G’s real-time capabilities will revolutionize milk production.

And the utility sector will benefit too from 5G, with Swantee noting how the technology will offer “the ability to make water consumption and electricity more efficient and effectively managed.”

Swantee believes that 5G will provide a major boost to the environment, hitting back at “fake news” that suggests the technology is in any way dangerous, “It’s absurd to believe that 5G cannot bring benefits for the environment, making our grids more efficient, making our telecommunication systems more efficient. We have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment.”

Green innovation for our future

However, these benefits are only being realized thanks to innovation from companies like Huawei. As demonstrated at MBBF, Huawei is strongly committed to utilizing advanced technologies to help operators continuously reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency. 

With the move to 5G potentially causing network power consumption to increase, Huawei and its partners are helping drive the industry forward in offering solutions that overcome this challenge. The company is making the most of advanced technologies, such as chipsets, advanced materials, artificial intelligence (AI), and beamforming, to help carriers reduce CO2 emissions and to apply these to the wider ICT sector. 

E2E 5G 

At MBBF, Edward Deng, President of Huawei's Wireless Solution, unveiled Huawei's latest 5G Full-Series Solution, including the focus on energy efficiency.

"5G has come. Powerful networks deliver optimal user experiences. Advanced algorithms ensure optimal performance. Autonomous driving networks empower the most efficient operations and maintenance. This is what we aim to help operators achieve with 5G," said Deng.

Huawei uses a series of innovative technologies to reduce the power consumption of 5G. In terms of chip technology, Huawei improves device integration by using higher performance chip algorithms, reduces the number of on-board components, improves overall device efficiency, and reduces the overall power consumption of the device. In the engineering process of 5G devices, Huawei introduces new materials and innovative algorithms to improve energy conversion efficiency, improve heat dissipation efficiency by using more scientific bionic heat dissipation technologies, and achieving miniaturization and lightweight features. In terms of the 5G site architecture, Huawei’s 5G simplified site solution – Super Blade Site all-outdoor solution – saves air conditioners for base stations and greatly reduces power consumption. In terms of network-level energy efficiency management, Huawei uses AI technology to implement network synergy and energy conservation, reducing the energy consumption of the entire network based on the stability of KPIs.

Huawei not only understands 5G but also understands energy. Last year, Huawei launched the 5G power solution, helping mobile base stations to save energy for all links. Based on the three concepts of simplicity, intelligence, and green, the 5G power solution provides a power supply of up to 98 percent, renewable energy (site stack, and oil dehydrator), and system synergy.

“We’re continuously innovating to promote a 5G power solution that’s simple, green, and intelligent and helps carriers to reduce CAPEX, OPEX, CO2 emissions, and enable clean and green networks,” said Huawei President of Telecom Energy Peng Jianhua.

ITU is driving change

As well as operators and vendors, the UN’s communication technology agency ITU is playing a leading role in the development of energy efficiency standards.  

Dr. Eun-Ju Kim, Chief of Digital Knowledge Hub at the agency’s BDT unit, highlighted at MBBF how the industry can contribute to all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular focus on Goals 7 and 13: Affordable and Clean Energy and Climate Action.

“There’s a link between the digital economy and the green economy,” said Kim. “The energy consumption of 5G is similar to 4G, but 5G can bring so many more benefits with the same amount of energy, which means that 5G can actually contribute to the environment through digital technology.”

With green technology as an integral facet of our complete 5G product and solution portfolio, Huawei is committed to working towards a sustainable future with its partners, customers, and industry organizations.