White Paper Outlines Path to Lower 6G Energy Consumption


Information and communications technology (ICT) industry has a history of becoming more energy efficient and, in the future, must continue reducing energy consumption to achieve environmental sustainability objectives as it progresses toward the sixth generation of cellular communications, according to ATIS’ Next G Alliance white paper.

“The ICT sector, including the data center industry, has made significant improvements over the last decade in reducing the overall energy consumption per compute and network traffic,” the Next G Alliance wrote. “To achieve zero impact on total energy consumption, the ICT sector must accelerate its commitment to sustainability in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development goals in a way that anticipates and factors in future effects.”  

The white paper, Green G: The Path Towards Sustainable 6G, identifies areas where the ICT sector, including the mobile infrastructure, has improved over the last decade in reducing the overall energy consumption of network traffic. The report also highlights the importance of sustainability in future generations of wireless.

ATIS President and CEO Susan Miller said: “The insights of the Green G white paper will be integral to the National 6G Roadmap that the Next G Alliance is also publishing in early 2022. This work is setting the stage to put North America at the forefront of wireless technology leadership for the next decade and beyond.”

In addition to minimizing ICT’s impact on the environment, next-generation mobile networks will be a major sustainability enabler for other industries and verticals to achieve their own sustainability goals, according to Marie-Paul Odini, Chair, Next G Alliance Green G Working Group. 

“It is now clear that all industries must reduce their carbon footprint and overall environmental impact to ensure a livable planet for future generations,” Odini said. “Next-generation mobile networks can enable millions of businesses globally to reduce their energy and environmental impact and can have a profound effect on climate change.”

The radio access network (RAN), which requires the most energy, reduced its consumption in the 5G NR standard through the use of a design that minimizes always-on transmissions. That method will be refined in 6G to decrease energy use even further, the Next G Alliance wrote.  

RAN energy efficiency in 6G will be increased through improved separation between “idle mode” and “active mode” functions, according to the white paper. “Modularization within the system will allow for dynamic, efficient shut-down of functionalities that are not in use and where no part of such functions is required to remain active for purposes such as signaling,” the Next G Alliance wrote.

The white paper also covered sustainability in data centers, core networks, data centers and autonomous automobiles, as well as in devices and hardware manufacturing.

In 2020, the ICT industry committed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, decarbonizing to meet the global climate change challenge. So far, 29 operator groups, representing 30 percent of global mobile connections, have signed on including TELUS, AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon. For a copy of the white paper, click here.

By J. Sharpe Smith,  Inside Towers Technology Editor

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