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The Sustainability Myth in 5G Networks!

By Frank Rayal posted 11-11-2022 12:12

The topic of energy consumption in 5G is becoming a mini-irritation because so much noise is around it. I often see quotes of how great 5G is on energy efficiency: xx Wh/MB or some other ratio that compares 5G with other technologies. I wonder if whoever is talking about such metrics actually tried to calculate it themselves. And what's more irritating is most of these numbers are pushed by lobbyists on behalf of the big telco companies and organizations.

Ratios for energy per unit of traffic are useless because what matters is the absolute, not the relative, energy consumption. Using ratios only helps confounds the issue. I also think this could lead to wrong conclusions and decisions. 

Rising energy prices - especially in Europe, because in Asia they were always relatively higher than the rest - are raising panic among different ecosystem players (service providers, investors, governments, etc.). In reality, for many service providers, the energy opex is not that critical - unless you operate in Europe and saw the cost of electricity increase multiple folds. What is the main pain point is actually the power capex associated with rolling out 5G.  

I have recently published a note to explain these nuances. Aside from setting the record straight on how useless energy efficiency ratios are, my main interest was to assess what matters when it comes to energy saving technologies. These technologies could be classified under hardware and software. Their impact on the bottom line will determine what kind of traction they get. So if you're an investor or a developer of such technologies, you may be interested to read the note which is available at: http://bit.ly/3UQmza8

A final note. In their "Consultation on the Spectrum Outlook 2022 to 2026" ISED is considering factoring sustainability in making spectrum decisions. I don't know what that really means. But if decisions are made based on fictitious claims, then we have a problem.