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NGMN white paper says 5G will enable new business models and use cases

NGMN white paper says 5G will enable new business models and use cases
Next-generation 5G networks are not only capable of enabling faster speeds, but also consume less energy, which is an important point associated with any operation. The Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) alliance, an alliance between major telecommunications groups, in its second 5G white paper gives some hints on how 5G efficiency can be improved.

NGMN states that 5G should support 1,000 times more traffic within the next 10 years, while reducing the energy consumption of the entire network by half without sacrificing performance. In a separate report, Western Digital predicts that with all the energy-saving features combined, 5G can use up to 90 percent less energy per bit of 4G. Improving efficiency benefits the entire stack; This not only reduces operating costs for the carrier but can also prolong cellphone battery life.

But the underlying design of the 5G poses new challenges for this ambition. High-frequency radio waves require more microcell towers to be held together. And although they use far less power than traditional macro cell towers, much more is required of them. Based on geography and building layout, the MGMN report states that the number of towers required varies from city to city.

Fortunately, there are already solutions to this issue. A feature of the 5G New Radio (NR) standard is sleep mode. In a 4G base station, a lot of its hardware remains operational even when no data is transmitted. Sleep mode can turn off unnecessary hardware to save power in idle mode. According to Ericsson, advanced nodes have better power consumption in more dense urban landscapes due to advanced load balancing techniques.

But operators need to rely more and more on energy-saving features baked into their gear. Autonomous management and control capabilities, the NGMN report states, must be implemented at a management and control level to be aided by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Networks will eventually need to be capable of self-diagnostics, configuration, and optimization. Ultimately, AI and ML can help operators better plan and optimize energy efficiency from their networks and reduce carbon footprint.

In addition, management actions must be built on open APIs to allow partners to exchange management information. To achieve this goal, operators should consider pulling solutions from the open-source community.

As with any data sharing, the new form of management naturally calls for a transparent policy that clearly informs users, especially when it concerns sharing information between businesses through open APIs. The information and data format must be changed in a general or standardized way, where all parties involved in data exchange will follow the same levels of governance.

Another strategy is tapping into renewable energy. With that saying, energy storage creates a problem. While renewable carbon reduces footprint, the sporadic availability of some types of energy sources often requires a form of power storage to maintain equal availability. Energy-free devices such as sensors and trackers that use ambient energy can help reduce the issue.

A strong 5G network requires more investment in infrastructure, especially in urban centers that have tall buildings that intercept high-frequency radio waves. Manufacturers of infrastructure and end-user devices need to consider the environmental and ethical impacts of the material. For example, cobalt, a heavy metal used in batteries, needs to be obtained from mines with established working standards. MGMN states that manufacturers should look for alternatives to raw materials that are harmful to the environment, as well as to invest in recycling and upcycling initiatives.

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