Qualcomm VP of engineering Juan Montojo told Mobile World Live (MWL) the inaugural standard release of 3GPP 5G Advanced specifications would boost network efficiency and effectiveness, as part of broader industry consideration of emerging and evolving technologies.

Plans the 3GPP is considering for Rel-18 include sleep modes for base stations when not transmitting and power amplifier improvements to boost efficiency when they are.

Montojo noted electricity is a significant expense for mobile operators, with power used by their networks “a non-trivial portion” of global energy costs.

Qualcomm also believes devices have a role to play: Montojo noted there may be opportunities to make networks more efficient by “adding a tiny bit of complexity to the terminal”.

Montojo added AI and machine learning could also contribute to power efficiency, noting 3GPP working groups are exploring which problems are “worth pursuing through AI/ML” in place of traditional techniques.

He explained one AI/ML project within Rel-18 will examine the use of enhanced data collection and inter-node communication to optimise network energy savings.

The Qualcomm executive also expects some discussion on how networks can be adapted to dynamically handle XR services.

Montojo noted the 3GPP didn’t “shoot for the moon” regarding duplexing, with plans for evolution of current approaches rather than full duplex, which would require base stations to transmit and receive simultaneously on the same channel.

Instead, the group aims to segment channels.

“Still there will be quite a bit of self-interference, but at least it’s easier than if you have full overlap”, he said, adding the approach will deliver coverage and latency improvements.

Other Rel-18 goals include enhancing the performance and efficiency of 5G Massive MIMO; improving mobility for devices operating in sub-7GHz and mmWave frequencies; expanding the capability for integrated access and backhaul on cars and trains; and using smart repeaters which amplify signal but not noise.