The Mobile World Congress, an industry get-together in Barcelona, certainly saw some sloganeering. But Huawei, Orange and industry body GSMA attempted to flesh out some of the green claims made about 5G.
The next-generation mobile network is being rolled out across the globe, with promises of super-fast internet going hand-in-hand with claims of massive benefits for the environment.
He told AFP how the industry’s claims stack up.
Will 5G be more energy efficient?
Jean-Marie Chaufray of Orange hailed power-saving features such as “sleep modes”, whereby components are switched off when they are not being used, and more energy efficient antennae and other hardware.
“Mobile data traffic is set to continue growing dramatically in the coming years. It is increasingly acknowledged that 5G will at least in part be the cause of this data traffic growth.
“Whilst this study relates to the period just before 5G started to be rolled out across the world, it nonetheless demonstrates that improvements in the energy efficiency of networks do not guarantee reductions in the energy consumption of networks.”
Will 5G help achieve zero-carbon goals?
GSMA’s Emanuel Kolta boasted that telecoms companies were “among the leading private sector companies” for committing to net-zero goals.
Laurence Williams: “Encouragingly telcos are increasingly signing up to climate targets and committing to use renewable energy to power their networks.
“The operational energy required to power mobile networks is important, but so is the ’embodied energy’ required to produce network infrastructure.
“A lot of research looking at the energy use implications of 5G only looks at operational energy.
Does 5G bring wider energy savings?
The idea is that better connectivity will allow more services and activities to move online, reducing energy consumption from transport and other industries.
Some industry estimates suggest energy saving at a ratio of 10-to-one — every unit of energy invested in 5G will save 10 more.
“However, others have cautioned that 5G-enabled efficiency improvements may simply lead to the greater consumption of particular goods or services or may only partially substitute for older goods or services — people may still attend in person meetings and buy physical music alongside teleconferencing and music streaming.
“Even if 5G does produce enablement effects that exceed its own emissions, it doesn’t necessarily follow that network operators could be allowed to achieve lower levels of emissions reductions.
Check out our end of season subscription discounts with a Moneycontrol pro subscription absolutely free. Use code EOSO2021. Click here for details.