Telcos fear surging energy costs due to 5G

More than 90% of mobile operators fear that the arrival of the 5G era will result in significantly higher energy costs, according to research from data center equipment provider Vertiv and 451 Research.

A survey of mobile operators, released at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, found high interest in technologies and services that can improve energy efficiency of 5G networks.

More than 90% of respondents expressed an interest in the emerging energy savings as a service (ESaaS) model of reducing energy costs.

This model involves working with energy partners to use technologies including IoT sensors, artificial intelligence and other connected technology to gain real-time insight into energy consumption patterns and where improvements can be made.

Vertiv has predicted that the move to 5G will increase total network energy consumption by up to 170% by 2026, with the largest increases expected in macro, node and network data center areas.

Despite this and other challenges ahead, the survey also indicates that operators are optimistic about the potential of 5G, and believe the 5G era will start in earnest in 2021. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) respondents to the survey are planning to deploy 5G in 2021-2022.

To support the transition to 5G, 37% of operators have deployed multi-access edge computing technology, with a further 47% planning to do so.

451 Research research vice president Brian Partridge said the survey sought to deliver clarity around operators’ hopes and fears around 5G and edge deployments,

“The two toughest connectivity challenges for supporting 5G topologies were revealed to be upgrading access and aggregation layer networks and adding new backhaul links,” he said.

“Survey respondents indicated that the availability of high quality connectivity to distributed POPs and ease of site acquisition were viewed as the most critical enablers to 5G success. We were frankly surprised by some of these results and believe it brings clarity to the level of transformation the industry now faces.”

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