BT Group targeted energy savings of 4.5 million kWh per year from the deployment of so-called cell sleep technology across its EE 4G network, following successful trials of the technology.

Announcing the nationwide rollout, the operator explained the software puts certain sites into a sleep mode during predicted periods of low traffic. Low demand periods have been identified using machine learning technology.

The software, supplied by the company’s respective RAN vendors, also has a deep sleep mode available for periods deemed “extremely low demand”. BT added capacity can be tuned back-up for unexpected demand surges “within seconds”.

It anticipates use of the feature will save 2 kWh per day per site and will contribute to an ongoing drive to achieve net zero carbon emissions by end-March 2031. Its networks account for almost 90 per cent of its total energy consumption.

BT chief networks officer Greg McCall said there was: “huge potential for energy savings across our networks by dynamically matching power consumption against network usage”.

“The optimisation and roll-out of cell sleep technology to over 19,500 sites across the UK is a significant milestone in achieving this, and an important development in countering the massive growth in data consumption we’re seeing across our networks.”

Other moves by the operator to cut its power use included switching off its 3G network, which is expected to save 17.4 million kWh per year, and deploying ultra-lightweight radio kit.

BT is the latest major operator to turn to network sleep power saving technology to cut emissions, with other deployments including Orange’s move with Nokia unveiled earlier this year and a contract between Ericsson and stc announced in 2023.