As with any new technology, there are detractors. There is expected to be a huge increase in numbers of connected devices and of traffic expected over 5G networks. This has led to concerns both about power consumption and energy-related pollution.
5G promises to deliver 1,000 times as much data over networks compared to that shared today. But with increased data comes the possibility of a comparable increase in energy use. Whilst the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has published tough requirements for data rates, latency and reliability, they’ve not backed this up with similarly challenging requirements for energy consumption.
Traditionally, mobile networks use about 15 or 20% of their power consumption on actual data transfer, with any unused energy being wasted as heat. Is there scope to increase energy efficiency to harness this wasted power with 5G?
It seems so; with refinements to software and hardware, clever use of multiple-input, multiple-output base stations, ultra lean design and the capacity to put 5G transmitters to sleep when not in use, there are suggestions that 5G could use less power than existing 4G base stations on average.