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A guide to network energy performance benchmarking

Empowering sustainability: A guide to network energy performance benchmarking

The best networks are not only fast and reliable, but energy efficient and sustainable too.

Enhancing network performance, energy efficiency and user experience

With surging demand for connectivity and increasing energy costs, maximizing network energy efficiency without compromising user experience is both a business and sustainability imperative for communications service providers. Discover how identifying and recording the right Key Performance Indicators can enable service providers to enhance network performance, energy efficiency, achieve opex reduction, and deliver a great user experience.



Toward Net Zero: The drive for optimized network energy efficiency

The telecommunications sector’s push for sustainability, aiming for Net Zero emissions by no later than 2050, demands optimized network energy efficiency. Despite rising energy costs, the correlation between performance and energy consumption often goes unaddressed. Prioritizing this link is key for both user experience enhancement and environmental responsibility.

Optimizing user experience through comprehensive network monitoring

User experience hinges on both quantitative metrics, such as network speed and signal strength, and qualitative factors, including satisfaction and perception, providing crucial insights for improvement. Effective benchmarking entails evaluating both network energy and performance. Third-party reporting often incentivizes service providers to optimize speed and coverage metrics, sometimes at the expense of neglecting energy efficiency.

Key challenges

While network speed and performance are commonly benchmarked, the transition to dynamic networks demands proactive monitoring and evolving benchmarking practices to tackle contemporary challenges. These are:

  • Availability: Accurately benchmarking network energy consumption requires data from various components, including active telecom equipment and site support systems, which may not always be readily available.
  • Accuracy: Ensuring the precision of data collection poses a challenge, especially with older equipment that may lack compatible counters for accurate measurement.
  • Granularity: Balancing the granularity of energy data is crucial, as power meters may only provide site-level insights, whereas detailed data on specific components like radios and basebands is necessary for effective energy management.
  • Comparison: Benchmark comparisons must consider factors like climate zones, topology, coverage levels, and urban vs rural areas to ensure accurate assessments of energy efficiency across networks.
  • Volume: Collating and analyzing the vast volume of data required for benchmarking presents a significant challenge, requiring robust processing capabilities to extract actionable insights.

The ultimate aim is to uphold user experience while employing energy-saving measures, enhancing network capacity, and boosting performance through dynamic, programmable networks. Although energy performance benchmarking alone cannot solve this, it enables service providers to gauge changes' impacts on performance and user experience.

Data driven decisions dashboard

The building blocks of benchmarking

The building blocks of effective benchmarking include establishing baselines for measurement, overcoming industry challenges in standardizing metrics, and considering various factors like data volume and user experience to assess network energy performance accurately. Granular counters are essential for measuring energy consumption and informing decisions on network modernization, hardware, and software upgrades, and deploying artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) for optimizing network performance and energy efficiency. Data counters are data points used to track various aspects of data usage within networks and play a critical role in effectively managing network resources.

The key to effective energy management graphic

Building blocks for effective network energy performance benchmarking

  • Observability: Identifying relevant metrics is crucial for observing energy consumption and service efficiency, laying the groundwork for network evolution and goal setting. Establishing baselines allows for continuous evaluation and target setting, ensuring progress tracking over time.
  • Gaining insights: Capturing and reporting energy data is essential for effective energy management, enabling informed decision-making and performance evaluation.
  • Target setting: Setting improvement targets based on network evolution, energy savings, and sustainability objectives facilitates progress toward energy performance goals, aligning with broader network ambitions.
  • Choice: Optimizing for energy performance while maintaining user experience is paramount, necessitating a balance between energy efficiency and service quality. Granular counters are indispensable for measuring energy consumption accurately, providing insights into areas for upgrade and informing decisions on network modernization strategies, including hardware and software upgrades, and the deployment of AI and ML for optimization.

Key takeaways for energy measurements

Common metrics

Common energy metrics are vital for quantifying energy efficiency and identifying improvement opportunities

Measurement platforms

Energy measurement platforms simplify data collection, analysis and reporting.


Benchmarking provides context for evaluating performance and setting realistic goals.

Measurement techniques

Different measurement techniques, including direct measurement, indirect measurement and data analysis, offers insights into energy efficiency.

  • Direct measurement: Uses counters to directly measure energy consumption of specific equipment or technologies
  • Indirect measurement: Estimates energy consumption based on multiple measured variables including Physical Resource Block (PRB) utilization and configured transmit power.