PARTNER INTERVIEW: Huawei’s 5th Global ICT Energy Efficiency Summit brought together telecoms heavyweights to discuss 5G power. Mr Peng Jianhua, President of Telecom Energy at Huawei, outlined how the vendor is leading the way in pushing a more efficient, intelligent and green future.

Mobile World Live (MWL): It has been a successful first year for 5G. How has Huawei supported operators in improving energy efficiency in the move to 5G?
Peng Jianhua (PJ): For 5G development in the future, green development and environmental protection is always key to sustainable development initiatives. Although 5G features much faster speeds and does increase power consumption by a little bit, if you look at the per bit power consumption, 5G is much lower than that of 4G and the energy efficiency of 5G is dozens of times higher than 4G.

Huawei, as a leader in ICT infrastructure and a provider of smart devices, is always committed to utilising advanced technologies to help carriers to continuously reduce carbon emission and improve energy efficiency. Huawei will utilise advanced technologies including chipsets, advanced materials, Artificial Intelligence (AI) among other digital technologies to help carriers reduce CO2 emission and to apply these advanced technologies to the ICT product and solutions. This will help the entire society achieve sustainable development.

Huawei is already the leading company in its products and solutions in this sector globally. Huawei will continuously utilise advanced technologies to optimise the per bit energy consumption, reduce carbon emission and bring more clean energy, making this green development initiative achieve even better outcomes.

MWL: What are the biggest challenges from an energy and power consumption perspective in deploying 5G networks?
PJ: First of all 5G brings excellent user experience. The speed is much faster because in 5G we added new frequency bands and added the number of channels which led to an increase in a certain amount of power consumption. Original operator sites of 2G, 3G and 4G still exist on the site part, but power consumption increases by a certain amount and because you have more frequency bands and because you have more sites, so the entire network power consumption increases. This has also created challenges to site construction and maintenance.

According to our statistics from studying tens of thousands of sites globally, we have found that during 5G construction, 30 per cent of the mains will require grid modernisation and 32 per cent of the sites have insufficient power capacity. 65 per cent of sites have insufficient back-up duration in the context of supporting remote AAU, remote powerful AAU. There is a big cable loss, leading to insufficient power from 77 per cent of sites.

To modernise sites, we found that the period required is usually between 3 to 6 months. You also need time for the application, while the cost for this modernisation is about €5,000 plus per site. If you need to add new cabinets you have higher rental costs. In the Netherlands, for example, one new cabinet will cost you €8000 rental per year.

During the 5G era, you have more diversified businesses compared to the 4G era. You have vertical businesses including the internet of cars and smart manufacturing and industrial control, among other businesses that are very sensitive to latency. There is also video surveillance, security and also real time computing-required businesses.

All these have led to a big change in the network architecture. Mobile edge computing (MEC) is now sinking to the site and to the C-RAN specifically. This will require more diversified power supplies because compared to 2G, 3G and 4G, one site now needs to simultaneously support both the telecoms equipment and the IT equipment.

As we talk about the operator network, as the energy consumption increases, so does the operational costs and carbon emission, therefore bringing in clean energy. Making the operation green on the site is very urgent.

Now, let us talk about the O&M. I would say that the site is first of all in a bigger number, there is more equipment on the site and the network complexity is higher. The O&M in the traditional way will greatly increase.

In the 4G era, globally, about 80 per cent of sites are still inspected and faults handled manually. This efficiency is very low. The O&M cost takes about 2 per cent to 5 per cent off total revenue. In the 5G era, if you still follow the traditional O&M, then the cost of O&M will be much higher. Therefore, telecoms energy in the traditional way is not sufficient to meet the requirement for 5G and this has posed new challenges. Traditional ways cannot meet the new challenges and new changes so we need a technological revolution and industrial upgrade of these sites.

MWL: How does Huawei help overcome the challenges? Huawei has launched the latest version of its 5G Power Solution. What new improvements does 5G Power bring to market?
PJ: In traditional telecoms industry solutions, it is simply about adding more boxes and boxes from different vendors. Simplistically, this is to stack them up together and only addresses a single function or single requirement. Huawei will evolve based on the 5G target network and based on our understanding of the carrier’s network. We are proposing this new concept of simple, intelligent and efficient. Plus, with digital technologies including AI, IoT, big data and the cloud, we propose this 5G power solution can help carriers roll out 5G and to maintain and operate 5G faster and simpler, generating more cost savings.

First of all, let me talk about Huawei’s idea of combining the power technologies and the electronic technologies through our concept of ‘one site, one cabinet’ and ‘one band, one blade’. We can make the deployment of networks much simpler. For example, in this high-density solution, we support 24 kilowatt with only 3U. But in the industry, the number is usually more than 12U.

Also, with the lithium battery and our blade battery, each 3U can support 100 ampere hour. Under this ‘one site, one cabinet’ concept, the power requirement and space requirement of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G can all be accommodated. This one site, one cabinet concept supports smooth evolution towards the future.

At this Summit, we have launched the most advanced eMIMO power solution, which supports the very advanced MEC scenario. And just now I talked about evolution. We must now leverage the most advanced digital technologies to achieve intelligent management of the whole network and intelligent O&M management.

Next, I want to talk about intelligence. Traditional power is like the feature phone. It provides simplistic functions. It has no intelligence in it. It has no intelligence scheduling. But, the 5G Power Solution leveraged AI so that power equipment and other equipment can have a synergy. They collaborate so you have intelligent functions and this is more like the smartphone you have today. We can achieve the intelligent peak shaving which is also a very advanced function.

Intelligent peak shaving can enable you to avoid mains renovation. Grid modernisation is also not necessary if you do peak shaving.

We have already deployed this intelligent function in China. Due to this reason, you do not need to have grid modernisation anymore. The cost of the site deployment can be reduced by 10 times. The time needed for the site deployment is greatly reduced from 60 days to only 1 day.

This intelligent function of voltage boosting can be realised so you can avoid changing the cable and this successful case is being implemented in Thailand. We reduced a line loss by 20 per cent and per site savings per year is 1,200 kilowatt per hour. The back-up capacity is increased by 25 per cent as a result.

The third feature of this solution is green. By coordinating the business with AI technology we can increase power generation efficiency of new energy in the solar solution for example. Compared with traditional solutions, the generation efficiency is 10 per cent to 20 per cent higher so we reduce carbon emissions per site.

Also, in this hybrid or mix solution mode, we innovated with the AI and on power reservation, so that we can cut the use of diesel and even achieve 100 per cent diesel free and that also means 100 per cent carbon free.

In Ethiopia, we saved, for example, 12 million litres of diesel every year as a result of this.

Without exaggeration we can claim that as of now, Huawei is the only company that truly provides the next-generation 5G energy solution, really helping carriers to reduce both CAPEX and OPEX in their 5G deployment. Our ultimate goal is for carriers to achieve zero watt and zero bit.

MWL: What responsibilities is Huawei taking on technology innovation and industrial upgrades?
PJ: We always focus on the challenges our customers face on 5G and we will continuously innovate our technologies and leverage the most advanced ICT digital technologies to help our carriers better construct 5G networks.

Last year, we were the first in the industry to release a whole series of 5G power solutions and today we are releasing the 5G eMIMO solution. We are continuously innovating on technologies to promote a 5G power solution that is simple, green and intelligent and always help carriers to reduce CAPEX, OPEX, CO2 emissions and contribute to help carriers develop clean and green networks.

Our hybrid energy solution has just won the Best Sustainable Power Solution Award from the 21st AfricaCom.

Huawei also actively takes part in industrial cooperation and standardisation. In China, Huawei works with the three top operators and China Tower to define 5G power standards. Huawei also actively participates in the world standardisation for 5G power. It is a main contributor.

At today’s Global ICT Energy Efficiency Summit, Huawei worked with telecoms partners and also companies in the power supply industry to release 5G Telecom Power Target Network White Paper. This jointly pushes forward with that goal and to achieve green and sustainable development, which is always in the blood of Huawei.

Huawei will continuously push for a better ICT network and a greener sustainable development of society.