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Squeeze your network. Reduce your energy costs.

Squeeze your network. Reduce your energy costs.

With networks getting ever busier and needing to provide more coverage and increased speeds, the cost of running the network is in danger of spiraling ever upwards. Downward pressure on customer revenues means that technology teams are being asked to reduce costs and squeeze ‘more for less’ out of the network infrastructure. The energy efficiency of the networks has come sharply into focus as it has a significant impact on operational costs.

Pressure to reduce carbon footprint of the network is also a significant factor as operators seek to meet environmental commitments - the energy needed to run the network can be as much as 80% of an operator’s total energy ‘footprint’.

 

The importance of energy efficiency has been highlighted as a key driver in the development of the next generation of network standards, the recently published 4G Americas ‘Recommendations on 5G Requirements and Solutions’ state that “Network functions should not convey excessive energy” and that “energy consumption could be adapted to the current traffic conditions to achieve significant energy savings”.

Squeeze your network. Reduce your costs.

Squeeze your network. Reduce your costs.

New Hardware Requires Proper Planning

Many operators and equipment vendors are looking to reduce the energy usage by introducing new hardware such as single RAN base stations, efficient power amplifiers, and free-cooling air-conditioning solutions. While there have been huge leaps forward in terms of hardware efficiency in the last few years, implementing these new hardware solutions in the network doesn’t happen overnight. They require a large scale infrastructure project which can take years to plan and execute, and come with their own associated costs. And there may still be a lot of legacy hardware which cannot be upgraded.

Good News for Operators: Tactical strategies to merge software and hardware

The good news for operators is that there are a number of ways in which they can utilise existing software and hardware based features and functionality in their existing network equipment to reduce energy usage and ‘squeeze’ more out of their legacy hardware. For example, to date traffic management strategies have mostly focused on moving subscribers and traffic onto different technology layers based on providing the maximum available service quality (e.g. data speeds) or the most efficient use of spectrum. But 2G, 3G & 4G technologies on various frequency bands can have different energy ‘footprints’. Taking this as input into traffic management strategies can offer potential energy efficiency reductions. In addition, there are many capacity management and power control features available in the RAN, some of which were designed for UE power and base station capacity management – but also serve to reduce overall base station energy consumption. Smart use of these features with appropriate parameter configurations can realise notable energy savings.

A recent example: Activating a Power Saving Feature on GSM sites showed 2-5% savings

A recent evaluation we carried out by activating a power saving feature on GSM sites showed that savings ranging from 2% to 5% were achievable depending on the configuration used. The benefit of this approach is that many of these features are already available to operators and once their effectiveness is evaluated they can be activated and rolled out across the network quickly and at low cost.

So, as well as looking at upgrading the network infrastructure to more energy efficient hardware, it’s well worth taking a good look at what capabilities are already available in the existing network, and how they can be used to drive the energy costs down. Here at Aspire we know how to squeeze the most from mobile networks and we can help you to identify, quantify and realise savings.

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