Research claims 5G networks are 90% more efficient

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Research conducted by Nokia and Telefonica suggests that 5G networks are 90% more energy efficient than legacy mobile infrastructure.

5G networks promises faster speeds, greater capacity, and ultra-low latency but operators also hope that new hardware and software will make their infrastructure more efficient and lower the cost-per-bit.

These cost savings are essential if operators to cope with the huge explosion in traffic that new and existing mobile applications are expected to generate. Operators will need to densify their networks in order to make use of new spectrum types and support the most revolutionary applications.

5G energy consumption

Energy costs are a significant portion of operational expenditure, so anything reduces consumption is going to have a financial benefit. Additionally, many operators have set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions or eliminate them entirely.

Nokia and Telefonica examined 11 different traffic load scenarios that measured the energy consumer per megabit on Nokia’s 5G RAN equipment. The findings suggest that operators can reduce operating expenses to the point that it offsets some of the up-front investments required for 5G upgrades.

The efficiencies are the result of hardware and software-based innovation from equipment manufacturers, such as intelligent power saving,  as well as native features of the 5G standard.

Nokia, for example, has been able to reduce 5G base station energy costs and CO2 emissions in Finland through the use of liquid cooling, while it also ships zero carbon products to its customers.

The company will hope its research will encourage more rapid adoption of 5G among operators who have delayed or slowed their rollouts due to economic concerns.

“Our greatest contribution to overcoming the world’s sustainability challenges is through the solutions and technology we develop and provide. We place huge importance on this,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia.

“Nokia’s technology is designed to be energy efficient during use but also require less energy during manufacture. This important study highlights how mobile operators can offset energy gains during their rollouts helping them to be more environmentally responsible while allowing them to achieve significant cost savings.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.