PARTNER CONTENT: Delegates at the fifth annual Global ICT Energy Efficiency Summit by Huawei saw the launch of the 5G Telecom Power Target Network whitepaper, a new study which defines 5G power requirements on the road towards building simple, intelligent and green networks.

The whitepaper was unveiled in a special presentation on stage at the event by Huawei’s President of Telecom Energy, Mr Peng Jianhua, alongside representatives from operator heavyweights; Orange, Hutchison Austria, China Mobile, Telus, Zain and Telefonica.

Derived through insights from Huawei, its telecoms partners and companies in the power supply industry, the whitepaper takes an in-depth look at how power solutions are having to adapt in the 5G era, where new technology, new spectrum, an increasing number of sites and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) sinking ramp up energy consumption.

The whitepaper has been divided into some key topic areas, providing a look at how to deal with the changes ushered in by 5G. These include; the direction of 5G’s network evolution, new challenges for networks, how to build networks tailored to 5G and an analysis of the optimal 5G telecom power solutions in different network scenarios.

5G power requirements
As of June 2019, 5G spectrum had been released in 33 countries around the world, with 25 countries launching the technology commercially.

And while the uptake grows and the technology ushers in new services, such as low-latency edge computing, 4K ultra-HD real-time video, telemedicine and more, industry players are concurrently having to deal with three major changes in the telecoms network; new technology and spectrum, increasing sites and MEC sinking.

Giving the situation context, the current theoretical limitation of bandwidth of 2G, 3G and 4G networks stands at 150Mb/s. In the 5G era, this cannot meet the requirements for next-generation services, so to achieve higher bandwidth, the 5G network uses a higher frequency, such as C-band. In total, 70 per cent of operators now have more than 5 bands, and when millimetre-wave is deployed in the future, this number will stand between 7 and 10.

As bandwidth requirements increase, the deployment of 5G means the number of sites must also increase, as a way to ensure improved experience rates for users and to achieve continuous coverage in hotspot areas.

Looking to more advanced 5G use cases – internet of vehicles, unmanned driving and smart manufacturing – there will be a requirement for higher timeliness. This means the network structure further alters, with the server moved from the data centre to the access network equipment room and site to reduce the delay impact during communication.

Considering larger data processing requirements, the communications equipment room will need to develop more ICT convergence, and with more devices, both energy and IT, installation space and load bearing capacity of this space will be prominent.

Power consumption will also increase, placing more importance on improvements in energy efficiency.

And high-power consumption, inevitably, will have an adverse effect on the entire power supply system of a network. This will continue to increase significantly in the next few years.

For example, the peak power consumption of a site increased to about 13,700 Watts after the 5G FR1 was deployed, and in the next five years, peak power consumption of the site will increase further to 18,900 Watts, with the application of millimetre wave and new technologies in the existing frequency bands.

As a result, a series of challenges will be placed on a site involving grid capacity, rectifier capacity, backup power and cooling capability.

Energy efficiency of the site power, therefore, needs to be improved.

Fortunately, as the whitepaper notes, green initiatives could be the answer. To reduce the overall power consumption cost, more and more operators are opting for solar energy to the site.

Notably, in recent years, new technologies have entered into the telecom energy domain, resulting in system performance improvements and take-up of these will only increase These include high density power, lithium-ion batteries, solar energy (as mentioned), the introduction of artificial intelligence and a shift towards more digitalised solutions.

Power consumption aside, additional challenges lie in other areas; specifically relating to site acquisition.

Of course, this is not a new problem, with site equipment having certain requirements on floor space and installation for a long time. This makes it difficult to gain approval permission and comes at a cost.

In the 5G era, the number of sites required is expected to be 2 to 3 times that of the 4G era, meaning 2 to 3 times the cost for site maintenance, which currently accounts for 2 per cent to 5 per cent of total operator revenue.

5G Telecom Power Challenge
The second part of the whitepaper puts the focus on meeting the immense challenge of powering 5G.

The first hurdle lies in AC Modernisation. The study explained that in the 5G era, if traditional construction methods are used, the entire gird capacity will need to reconstructed, which could take between three to six months, at a cost of €5000. This would result in a large amount of infrastructure reconstruction and a waste of resources on a large scale.

Secondly, the advent of 5G will require new cabinets. The power and energy density of each component of the traditional site communication energy are low, so with 5G, new cabinets are needed thus increasing the site rent. Adding a new cabinet in the Netherlands, for example, ups the annual rent by €8000.

Another immediate challenge is dealing with high energy consumption. Accessing 5G means site consumption doubles, and improving the energy efficiency of the power supply solution becomes urgent.

Finally, with 5G, operators face higher Operations and Management (O&M) costs. To mitigate these costs, improving O&M efficiency is urgent for 5G, which already varies from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. There is also a high global theft rate of acid-led batteries, leading to asset loss and a big impact to the quality of network service.

So, what is the best way to tackle these challenges?

The whitepaper explains how Huawei, along with industry partners, believe digitalisation across networks is key. Engineering design innovation for key components, digital and AI control technologies can help create a three-layer target network, leading to a simplified, intelligent and green infrastructure.

5G requires a power upgrade
As 5G deployments continue to increase globally, the traditional way of building networks is no longer relevant.

An increasing number of devices working on the same infrastructure will result in using larger energy, thus bringing higher costs and ultimately delays to the technology’s progress.

The solution to the problem centres around three key network power system requirements; a simple, intelligent and green approach.

As the whitepaper concludes, to ensure efficient power consumption, there will need to be a change in the design mode of the site power system, the use of more intelligent technologies and simplification of O&M of the network, ultimately reducing the energy consumption per bit.

Doing this will ensure a better-connected world for all.

Read the full whitepaper here for more details.