This report analyses the ways in which environmental concerns are being factored into 5G rollouts.

It is highly likely that 5G will drive an increase in networks’ consumption, as it enables a growing number of uses, employs new frequency bands and requires increased network density, moving beyond the confines of classic broadband.
That said, a host of initiatives are focused on optimising per-unit consumption levels. This report takes a look at a number of solutions designed to reduce and optimise energy consumption (AI, sleep modes, virtualisation, etc.).

The world’s leading telecom manufacturers, equipment suppliers and operators are working to adopt these energy-saving solutions which, more and more, are being seen as selling points.
This report examines the strategies of some 20 market players, providing a detailed analysis for ten of them.

The report answers the following questions:

  • How will 5G change network consumption?
  • What are the main (current and future) avenues for reducing 5G’s consumption?
  • How are equipment suppliers tackling energy saving issues?
  • Which operators have the greenest strategic plans and most ambitious carbon-neutrality targets?

Table of contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Factors behind mobile networks’ increased consumption
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Traffic surging on all fronts
2.3. Network topologies highly influenced by spectrum
2.4. Increased network density, key to mapping the rise in consumption
2.5. Core network also affected by increased density
2.6. Development of Massive MIMO
2.7. More transmission sources means more consumption
2.8. 5G performances driving increased energy consumption

3. Energy savings and optimisation solutions
3.1. Summary: main paths to reducing energy consumption
3.2. Base stations’ advanced sleep modes
3.3. Reducing massive MIMO systems’ energy consumption
3.4. Role of AI (Machine Learning) in energy saving
3.5. Progress in semiconductors and optimising existing systems
3.6. Replacing old networks’ (2G/3G/4G) equipment
3.7. Flexible spectrum sharing for an efficient transition to 4G/5G
3.8. Access network virtualisation and resource sharing

4. Players’ positioning
4.1. Summary: equipment suppliers’ positioning
4.2. Comparison of equipment suppliers’ approach to energy savings
• Huawei
• Nokia
• Ericsson
• Samsung
4.3. Summary: operators’ positioning
4.4. How players are positioned on energy consumption.
• Orange
• AT&T
• China Mobile
• Telefónica
• Vodafone

List of tables and figures

List of tables and figures

Factors behind mobile networks’ increased consumption
• Networks’ energy consumption curve and future scenarios
• Breakdown of a mobile networks’ sources of energy consumption
• 5G target performances (IMT-2020)
• Forecast increase in monthly mobile traffic worldwide
• Main pros and cons of the different frequency bands
• How calling networks have evolved to accommodate more complex and demanding uses
• The core network’s evolution
• Comparison of cell vs. massive MIMO coverage
• Progression of MIMO antenna configurations and associated power needs
• Key principles of 5G and how they effect the networks’ energy consumption

Energy savings and optimisation solutions
• Main paths to reducing a network’s energy consumption
• Sleep modes defined in 5G standards
• Implementing an AI-based energy savings mechanism
• Snapshot of equipment suppliers’ solutions using AI to manage sleep modes
• Progression of the size of a 5G base station over the course of its development cycle
• Example of a typical evolution in the different radio technologies frequency bands use
• Comparison of virtualised and non-virtualised radio access network architecture

How players are positioned
• Comparison of how the main equipment suppliers are positioned with respect energy efficiency
• Evolution of Huawei’s active antenna solutions
• Ericsson’s different energy-saving features
• Measures being taken by operators to limit energy consumption
• How operators are position on energy consumption
• Progression of energy consumption (in GWh) by Orange fixed and mobile networks
• Difference between the two 5G services launched by AT&T and impact on network density
• Progression of energy consumption (in GWh) by AT&T fixed and mobile networks
• Coordinated deactivation of frequency bands according to traffic helps reduce electricity consumption
• When traffic is multiplied by 3.5 over consumption remains stable
• Distribution of energy savings across the network
• Evolution of the Vodafone network’s energy consumption

Geographic area



  • AT&T
  • China Mobile
  • Ericsson
  • Huawei
  • Nokia
  • Orange
  • Samsung
  • Telefónica
  • Vodafone

Other details

  • Reference: M20430MRA
  • Delivery: on the DigiWorld Interactive platform
  • Languages available: French, English
  • Tags: 5G, 5G consumption, carbon-neutrality, energy consumption, energy saving, green 5G, network consumption

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