As mobile networks expand to reach new markets, and existing network traffic rises, growth must be managed to achieve better energy performance. We develop solutions that enable operator networks to use as little energy as possible while managing expected growth in data traffic; meeting the needs of both current and future 5G networks.
Product energy performance
Each new mobile network generation has entailed a rise in energy consumption even if the overall Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Entertainment and Media (E&M) carbon footprint is shrinking. For 5G, the next mobile generation, energy-efficiency enablers have a prominent focus in the standard. The transition to 5G has a huge potential not only to develop energy-efficient solutions for mobile networks, but also to help different sectors of society to reduce their environmental impact. As mobile networks expand and network traffic rises, growth is being managed so as to achieve better energy performance.
In mobile systems the radio access network (RAN) consumes the most energy. Over the years Ericsson has developed increasingly energy-efficient solutions, shifting from single-standard products to multi-standard solutions contributing to significant energy savings, including improved energy performance in the 5G-ready Ericsson Radio System (ERS). The Company works in a systematic way that addresses the energy performance of the whole network including hardware, software and site dimensions.
Driving 5G energy performance
The Ericsson target is that by 2022 the 5G product portfolio shall be ten times more energy-efficient (for the same transferred data) than the current 4G portfolio (baseline 2017) for an enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) use case. During 2018 Ericsson has developed and released its first 5G products for mid-band and millimeter-wave spectrum bands, where further energy-performance improvements and optimizations were identified.
By upgrading software it is possible to increase network capability on the existing hardware. In 2018, the Ericsson Spectrum Sharing software was presented. The software solution offers simultaneous and dynamic support of 4G and 5G within the same spectrum band. Through a remote software installation on ERS radios the new functionality enables operators to deliver nationwide 5G coverage flexibly without adding new energy-consuming hardware.
Making room for 5G
The Ericsson Radio System (ERS) portion of the sales mix has continued to increase. As a part of the Company's Science Based Target, Ericsson commits to a 35% energy saving in ERS versus the legacy portfolio by 2022 (baseline: RBS 6000, 2016 portfolio). In 2018, Ericsson achieved a 33% energy saving from delivered ERS radios versus the legacy portfolio.
Through this change of sales mix, more customers can benefit from the improvements in energy efficiency. In one case study, old equipment was replaced by 5G-ready ERS, resulting in improved throughput of speed and data as well as a reduction of up to 30% in energy consumption.
Enabling use of renewable energy sources
Operators in countries with unreliable electricity grids tend to rely on non-sustainable diesel generators at many sites. Ericsson is committed to helping customers find economically viable alternative energy solutions and has set a target to make this achievable in 25% of the total installed base by 2020. Ericsson has a complete portfolio of solutions to address these challenges.
In 2018 Ericsson has trialed and released a triple-band site, using the ERS portfolio, that consumes only 1 kW at site level. The solution supports 2G, 3G, 4G, NB-IoT and, with a future software upgrade, 5G. By using the Ericsson Site Controller to align the solar power supply with traffic patterns, site availability is maximized, battery lifetime is prolonged and the number of solar panels is reduced. This helps reduce the key cost-drivers for solar power, making it an economically viable alternative to diesel on more sites.