5GrEEn: Towards Green 5G Mobile Networks

5GrEEn: Towards Green 5G Mobile Networks

Mobile communications have experienced a tremendous journey since its introduction in the late 1970s. At that time analog voice calls were the main application, while today we have mobile broadband services capable of providing end user data rates of tens, or even hundreds, megabits per second. Due to the introduction of new devices such as smartphones and tablets and associated applications and use cases, the data traffic volumes in the networks have in principle exploded during the last few years. This trend is expected to continuein the coming years. In addition, future visions such as the Internet-of-Things is more and more becoming a reality,and today all expertise agree that we are moving towards a networked society with unconstrained access to information and sharing of data available anywhere and anytime to anyone and anything.

Hence, a common conclusion is that mobile systems in the future will need to cope with vastly different challenges and expectations than today. Current 3G and 4G technologies such as high speed packet access (HSPA) and long term evolution(LTE) will evolve in that direction, but there are also initiatives starting up focusing on new, 5G, technologies. One example isthe EU-funded FP7 project METIS, an industry-wide consortium with the target to explore mobile and wireless enablers for the 2020 information society.

One of the big challenges is to meet the future requirements and expectations in an affordable and sustainable way. Low energy consumption is the key to achieve this. Already today, the mobile operator’s energy bill is an increasing part of their
OPEX, and with the future requirements and expectations ther eis a clear risk that this may increase even further if nothing is done. This is also important from a sustainability perspective; even though mobile communications today only contributes to a fraction of a percent of the global CO2 footprint, it is important to maintain or even reduce this in the future. Hence, low energy consumption is an important design target for mobile communication systems in the future.

5GrEEn is a joint effort of partners tightly connected to the METIS project representing the telecom vendor perspective, the mobile operator view, and leading academic institutions. 5GrEEn will specifically focus on energy efficiency aspects of 5G mobile networks, and will hence contribute significantly to the important design target of low energy consumption.

In 2020, mobile access networks will experience significant challenges as compared to the situation of today. Traffic volumes are expected to increase 1000 times, and the number of connected devices will be 10-100 times higher than today in a networked society with unconstrained access to information and sharing of data available anywhere and anytim eto anyone and anything. One of the big challenges is to provide this 1000-fold capacity increase to billions of devices in an affordable and sustainable way. Low energy consumption is the key to achieve this.

Important focus areas to achieve this include system architecture, where a logical separation of data and control planes is seen as a promising solution; network deployment, where (heterogeneous) ultra dense layouts will have a positive effect; radio transmission, where the introduction of massive antenna configurations is identified as an important enabler; and, finally, backhauling solutions that need to be more energy efficient than today.

All these areas are important in order to meet the future challenges and requirements with a green 5G network design. Due to the partners’ tight connection to the METIS project, 5GrEEn will influence the work in METIS which will take benefits from the guidelines and recommendations provided by 5GrEEn in their overall design of future mobile technologies.

Furthermore, some of the focus areas and solutions are also relevant and applicable in current mobile network technologies, and when possible 5GrEEn partners will contribute to relevants tandard bodies such as the ETSI EE technical committee and 3GPP in order to make sure that all future mobile networks will be as green as possible.

*Courtesy of Sibel Tombaz [email protected]

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