Exclusive: Ericsson accelerates energy push with latest project
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Exclusive: Ericsson accelerates energy push with latest project

Ericsson building sign

Ericsson is exploring potential energy-saving measures that can be implemented in mobile networks via a project with a European mobile operator.

The project has delivered results that the company describes as “significant”.

Speaking exclusively to Capacity, Christian Leon, who took on a new role on June 8 as head of customer unit for France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Algeria and Tunisia and the global customer unit for Orange said the simulation was done with sustainability in mind, but also as energy prices have soared across Europe.

The company is looking to reduce the overall electricity bill of operators, while also reducing the carbon footprint.

“The two are correlated,” Leon told Capacity.

Additionally, Ericsson has set its long-term ambition to be Net Zero across its value chain by 2040 and is therefore pushing CSPs to factor sustainability into network roll-out.

The firm is working towards a first major milestone to cut emissions by 50% in the supply chain and portfolio by 2030 and aims for Net Zero in its activities at the same time.

Ericsson aims to reduce the energy consumption of a typical new site by approximately 40% between 2021 and 2025.

According to separate Ericsson research, ICT solutions can enable a reduction of global carbon emissions by up to 15 percent by 2023 – so beyond energy savings it is encouraging operators to think about how 5G powered technology can reduce emissions.

Modernising equipment 

Mobile networks account for around 50% of the power consumption of CSPs, while RAN accounts for 80% of the energy consumption of the mobile network. And 40% of a CSP’s full electricity bill is attributable to RAN hardware.

Hardware modernisation together with 5G deployment will lead to a 24% drop in energy consumption for the operator, Ericsson says.

This is an aspect of 5G that is sometimes taken for granted according to Leon.

“This is by pure design of how 5G was built,” he says.

“The standards were implemented with the mindset of reducing the overall energy consumption of the system.”

Leon is keen to stress that this is not a new development and is something that could see operators reduce energy costs immediately.

“You will see results straight away.”

The same combination of modernisation and 5G has the potential to result in a 45% improvement in energy savings over the next three years according to Ericsson figures.

For operators, hardware modernisation and software implementation can save between 35% and 43% in energy costs in two to three years.

“Modernisation takes time, but it's big,” Leon said.

After modernising the equipment and implementing 5G, companies will begin to see a reduction in overall energy consumption – and this has been proven by the project in question.

Given that 5G is 10 times more energy-efficient for the same transferred data than the 4G portfolio, hardware modernisation should become an integral pillar of the company’s strategies moving forward.

Ericsson maintains that the energy crisis requires “urgent action” – and beginning a network modernisation process without any further delay could be the answer to keeping energy costs under control over the next few years.

By modernising legacy networks and then upgrading to 5G, the vendor says CSPs have an opportunity to lower operating costs thanks to greater energy efficiency and this reduce total cost of ownership.

Ericsson’s approach looks at three areas: a sustainable approach to network planning and operation, modernising existing network equipment while scaling up 5G and leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and automation to boost energy savings during cell site operation.

Mobility Report

Alongside this news, Ericsson has just released its lates Mobility Report which shows that 5G subscriptions are growing in every region and are forecast to top 1.5 billion globally by the end of 2023.

This is despite geopolitical challenges and macroeconomic slowdown in some markets, with communication service providers (CSPs) continuing to invest in 5G.

The June 2023 edition of the report highlights the growth of 5G in India. Subscriptions reached around 10 million by the end of 2022 and are estimated to account for about 57% of mobile subscriptions in the country by the end of 2028, making it the fastest growing 5G region globally.

The report also reveals that the uptake of 5G subscriptions in North America has been stronger than expected in previous forecasts.

At the end of 2022, the region had the highest 5G global subscription penetration at 41%.

5G subscriptions are rising in every region worldwide and are forecast to reach 1.5 billion by the end of the year.

Global mobile network traffic continues to grow with the monthly global average usage per smartphone expected to exceed 20GB by the end of 2023.

The report also shows continued revenue growth in leading 5G markets.

Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of networks at Ericsson said: “The global adoption of 5G technology has surpassed one billion subscriptions, bringing positive revenue growth for communications service providers in leading 5G markets.

“We see a strong link between the increase in 5G subscriptions and service revenue. Over the past two years, the introduction of 5G services in the top twenty markets has resulted in a seven percent revenue boost.

“This trend shows the growing value of 5G, benefiting users and service providers alike.”

Worldwide, around 240 CSPs have launched commercial 5G services and around 35 have deployed or launched 5G standalone (SA).

The most common 5G services launched by service providers for consumers are enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), fixed wireless access (FWA), gaming and some augmented reality and virtual reality-based services such as training and education.

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