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Research by STL Partners and Vertiv reveals why telecom operators should prioritize efficiency and sustainability in 5G networks

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5G will be the most transformative communications technology in a generation and will enable a universe of new services, including advanced energy management capabilities that will be critical to solving growing energy and sustainability challenges. But new research highlights the practical challenges of 5G energy management that telecom operators face.

Estimates suggest that 5G networks can be up to 90% more efficient (http://nokia.ly/2ZFwlRQ) per unit of traffic than their 4G predecessors, but they still require significantly more power due to the increased network density, heavy reliance on IT systems and infrastructure, and increased network usage and accelerated traffic growth. The report from telecommunications consultancy STL Partners and Vertiv (NYSE: VRT) (http://bit.ly/2OT9gJl), a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and business continuity solutions, concludes that carriers should meet these challenges in two ways: By adopting energy efficiency best practices on their networks and by encouraging their customers to adopt 5G compatible services to reduce consumption and emissions in all areas.

STL Partners estimates that global 5G traffic will overtake 3G / 4G by 2025, making sustainability an urgent priority for operators. In fact, 40% of companies polled for the report said energy efficiency should be the number one or number two priority for carriers when deploying 5G networks.

The report, Why energy management is critical to 5G success, uses research, including a survey of 500 companies around the world, to describe the challenges telecom operators face as they battle the rising energy consumption and costs associated with 5G. The document identifies several good practices aimed at mitigating these increases and costs, organized into five categories:

  1. Network technology: Deploy hardware and software designed and operated for efficiency
  1. Facilities infrastructure: Including new edge data centers to support cloud native computing
  1. Infrastructure management: Deploy the appropriate hardware and software to measure, monitor, manage, improve and automate the network
  1. Organization and evaluation: Take a holistic and complete view of the cost and investment life cycle across the entire network
  1. Working with others: Adopt innovative and non-traditional business models, standards and collaboration

“Telecommunications operators that achieve significant energy and cost reductions do so by assessing the entire ecosystem around their network operations – people, goals, infrastructure and partners,” said Scott Armul, vice president of global DC power and outdoor facilities at Vertiv. “Because of the reliance on IT to enable 5G applications, a high degree of collaboration will be required between operators, OEMs and infrastructure providers, as well as customers to ensure that deployments are optimized and that each efficiency possible is sought. “

5G as a tool for sustainable development

The report makes it clear that improvements in network efficiency and best practices, while important, are only one piece of the energy puzzle that accompanies 5G. These efforts must be combined with a more holistic societal approach to reducing energy consumption and emissions that leverages the capabilities of 5G in a way that is well beyond the control of the telecommunications operator.

“Operators are deploying 5G networks to increase their revenues. This growth will come from new connectivity and new applications enabling operator customers to transform themselves, ”said Phil Laidler, Director of STL Partners. “To be credible and informed partners for their customers, operators must set an example. The energy strategy is a great place to start. ”

Opportunities for progress

In terms of influencing customer behaviors to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, the report identified three areas with significant potential for improvement through the use of 5G services. The manufacturing sector could realize up to $ 730 billion in benefits by 2030 through the use of 5G to enable advanced predictive maintenance and automation. Transportation and logistics could generate up to $ 280 billion in profits by 2030 through advanced driver assistance, connected traffic infrastructure and automated home deliveries. Finally, the report suggests that 5G could enable the healthcare sector to provide better access to healthcare services for up to 1 billion patients by 2030 while simultaneously reducing emissions through better use of assets, reduced patient and clinician travel; and increased clinician productivity.

Influencing such behavior is essential to operators’ efforts to mitigate the environmental impact of 5G, but there is work to be done to build the necessary partnerships. Only 37% of those polled said they saw operators as credible partners in reducing carbon emissions today, but 56% said they believed telecom operators could be credible partners in the future.

Additional details, including ways telecom operators can inspire customers to use 5G sustainably and strategies to improve efficiency on 5G networks, can be found in the report, which can be downloaded from Vertiv.com (http://bit.ly/2NStp1A). STL Partners is hosting a webinar on the subject, with experts from Vertiv, on March 2. Clean energy: essential to the success of 5G?, visit STLPartners.com/webinars. For more information on Vertiv’s portfolio of energy efficient solutions for 5G support, visit Vertiv.com/5G-EMEA (http://bit.ly/3dEGWFa).

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