Cutting the soaring cost of powering a network

21 Aug 2008

For telcos, rising electricity cost isn't just a problem in the data center.

At least 80% of carriers' total power cost is consumed in the network. Like everyone else, operators are seeking ways to cut their soaring electricity bills.

Ovum research director John Madden said CTOs were under pressure from their CEOs and shareholders to cut power cost and consumption. They are also influenced by the push for CSR and green IT, "but the motivating factor initially is to take out cost," he said.

Already EU operators have developed a code of conduct on energy efficiency of ADSL and VDSL equipment that is aimed at halving electricity consumption of broadband networks between now and 2015.

Anne Larilahti, head of environmentally sustainable business for Nokia Siemens Networks, said energy-saving was "pretty much on the minds of all the operators today because of the oil prices."

Mobile operators were mainly focused on cutting the escalating power cost of running their radio networks, she said.

"If you look at the really big guys, they have energy bills of $1 billion annually, so that makes it quite interesting for them.

For vendors like NSN, it's one of the next big business opportunities.

"If the operators' energy bill is $1 billion, and 85% is going on networks, and we can lower power consumption in the base station by 1% per year, we are already saving them millions in power costs."

NSN estimates that the energy cost of running 3G networks could be cut by as much as 40%. How to do it‾

It's first about network design, so that a minimum number of base stations are deployed.

"That makes a huge difference," Larilahti said. "We have done calculations where you end up with 70% savings through optimal design and planning with energy efficiency in mind."

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