PARTNER FEATURE: Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are looking more closely now than ever at energy usage or, more specifically, energy conservation. Whether it is part of improving their ESG credentials, targeting net zero ​​in support of the 2015 Paris Agreement or to deal as efficiently as possible with the rising and volatile cost of energy, the goal is the same.

Meeting that goal won’t be easy. 5G roll out is accelerating and that means way more base stations, and while 5G is more efficient and faster than 4G, the services that people use on it will generate a lot more data.

According to the GSMA the potential increase in data traffic will be up to 1,000 times more and the infrastructure to cope with it could make 5G as much as 2-3 times as energy hungry. And according to the same source, the telecoms industry as a whole already accounts for 2% to 3% of the total power consumption of humanity.

Sustainability goes from end-to-end
Of course, it is not just the rollout of 5G that needs close consideration, MNOs need to take a holistic view of their entire end-to-end operations. The GSMA estimates that the RAN accounts for 73% of energy consumption, 13% is the core network, 9% is data centres and 5% is operations. The figures will vary from MNO to MNO, although right now there is not a great deal of visibility available into each of these areas.

The RAN has been a clear target for MNOs looking into efficiency gains. If we’re being completely honest that has been driven mostly by a desire to cut costs rather than create a greener planet, but it amounts to the same thing.

HCL Intelligent Dynamic Energy Saving (IDES) product, HCL IDES, is an AI/ML-powered solution that optimises RAN energy consumption. It employs algorithms and pattern recognition to analyse traffic on a per-cell basis so that automated adjustments for each individual cell are made. By scrutinising traffic patterns, this technology identifies opportunities to temporarily power down network infrastructure during low-usage periods, such as nighttime, without compromising the quality of service for mobile users.

This product leads to a remarkable 3.5 times increase in energy savings, equating to 6 kilowatts per hour per cell, as opposed to systems that uniformly decrease power consumption across all cells. HCLSoftware has seen impressive results with a Tier 1 MNO customer in Western Europe realising annualised savings of $2 million across 10,000 sites.

In addition to the RAN and core network, data centres are also becoming a target for MNOs and the wider technology industry. According to IDC, sustainability will be the number one area for investment in cloud operations, and by 2028, “owing to growing power scarcity and sustainability mandates, 60% of data centres will adopt fit-for-purpose solutions such as custom silicon, liquid cooling, microgrids, and ruggedisation.”

As MNOs strive to enhance their networks to accommodate increased bandwidth and services, they face the challenge of maintaining equilibrium between resource allocation and service quality. Oversupplying resources leads to higher costs, while undersupplying results in diminished service standards.

Visibility into exactly where efficiency gains can be made is a critical component of reducing energy usage. It is imperative for the entire end-to-end mobile network (not just the RAN) to dynamically adjust to the current service demand. MNOs need solutions that can automatically activate energy-intensive resources such as cells and data centres when required, and deactivate surplus resources when service quality can be upheld without them.

How AI-powered HCLSoftware helps
HCLSoftware’s technology enables MNOs to offer uninterrupted, rapid, and dependable 4G and 5G services. Leveraging AI, HCLSoftware products enhance network performance, particularly in densely populated areas where traffic congestion is common.

Additionally, the HCLSoftware Augmented Network Automation product employs AI-driven network automation to analyse traffic on a per-cell basis, automating adjustments for each individual cell. The product analyses a range of data sources including network statistics, real-time traffic data, call trace records, and more to seamlessly accommodate network evolution across 4G, 5G, and ORAN technologies with its multi-layer awareness. Leveraging AI,  operational expenses associated with delivering 4G and 5G services throughout the entire network from RAN to core are reduced.

Now HCLSoftware has made its products even more accessible to MNOs by providing a range of RAN vendor agnostic software products that can be used as a single platform to address the end-to-end network, or separately to address individual aspects of the network.

The HCL Data Center Observability (DCO) product delivers a single pane of glass for enterprise data centre infrastructure management. It provides end-to-end mapping from applications to data centre infrastructure that helps in capacity planning, auto discovers data centre topology to give a complete connectivity view, and includes complex event correlation, anomaly detection to enable root cause analysis for improved efficiency.

While the HCL Data Center Energy Management (DCEM) solution is an AI/ML powered agentless solution for energy management at enterprise and telco data centres. This solution is designed for efficient data centre management by less manual intervention and lower energy cost. It dynamically manages energy use of data centre IT infrastructure. It features closed loop automation that learns and optimises the energy consumption without impacting performance and features a live dashboard showing consumption, energy saving and carbon emission trends.

Regulators and investors will force the issue
It is likely that governments around the world will mandate their own far reaching sustainability regulations. Legislation such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) in the EU requires businesses—including qualifying EU subsidiaries of non-EU companies—to report on the environmental and social impact of their business activities. This is the tip of a regulatory iceberg that will only ever get bigger as a result of governments acting on climate change.

It is also likely that investors will start looking more closely at ESG figures. In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) play a key role in decisions made by larger funds. Millennials and Gen Z are more likely than previous generations to make investment decisions based on factors such as environmental impact.

As MNOs strive to cut costs and target carbon neutrality to meet their own sustainability targets or simply to remain compliant, they are increasingly turning to smarter network automation and optimisation. With the ability to identify areas that need attention and the option to select specific AI-powered vendor agnostic software solutions that directly address problem areas MNOs should act now.

Create sustainable end-to-end networks with HCLSoftware. Learn more here