5G networks ‘can be up to 90% greener than 4G systems’

Nokia and Telefónica note as data traffic exponentially rises, 5G networks will need to be equipped with a number of sustainable hardware and software features to keep related emissions as low as possible

5G networks can be up to 90% more energy efficient per traffic unit than existing 4G systems, suggests a new study from Nokia and Telefónica.

The firms say 5G is “a natively greener technology” and allows more data bits to be transmitted per kilowatt of energy than any previous type of wireless technology – however, they note that as data traffic exponentially rises in the future, 5G networks will need to be equipped with a number of sustainable hardware and software features to keep related emissions as low as possible.

During the study, the two businesses tested a range of scenarios with differing levels of traffic and measured the energy consumed across each – they found power-saving features such as small cell deployments and new 5G architecture and protocols can be used to significantly boost efficiency.

Nokia and Telefónica are now working together to build green 5G networks, as well as developing smart energy network infrastructure and machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to improve sustainability and performance.

Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: “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. 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.”

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