September 2, 2021
Vodafone UK reckons it can halve 5G energy consumption by using a new piece of Ericsson kit.
In the latest sign that the world (or at least England) is returning to normal after all the Rona drama, the announcement was preceded by an actual face-to-face event in London at which the UK’s elite telecoms commentariat got to hang out with Ker Anderson – Head of Performance and Radio – as well as Vodafone’s charming and accommodating PR team.
The news hook was Vodafone’s revelation that the Ericsson AIR 3227 32×32 MIMO delivers the same performance as older 64×64 ones at half the energy consumption. On top of the inevitable claims for green kudos this is a big deal for Voda as 90% of its total UK energy consumption comes from the network. So it’s buying a 1,500 of them from Ericsson and will start installing them as soon as it has used up its stash of 64×64 units.
“Our strategy is simple; turn off anything we don’t need, modernise our network where possible, and use the most energy efficient options available without compromising the service we deliver to our customers,” said Andrea Dona, Vodafone UK Chief Network Officer, in the accompanying press release.
“The success of this trial allows us to explore new ways we can more effectively manage the energy consumption of our network with our partner Ericsson. There is no silver bullet for managing network energy consumption – it is about putting sustainability at the heart of every decision and adding up all the small gains to make a material difference.”
You can’t buy marketing like that, or maybe you can, but either way it’s a pretty strong endorsement of this bit of Ericsson kit. Vodafone slightly laboured the green point with talk of using drones for site maintenance, also in partnership with Ericsson, but the bigger story is the money it’s set to save from its electricity bill.
We also heard Vodafone has managed to scrape together 10 MHz of 900 MHz spectrum previously dedicated to 3G to refarm into 4G, which is the standard that carries 90% of its data traffic. Apparently some people are still dependent on 3G so Vodafone can’t just switch it off unless it fancies dealing with the PR nightmare of cutting a few pensioners and Luddites off from the outside world.
“Spectrum is a finite and valuable resource for the digital world, and therefore we have to be very careful how it is deployed,” said Dona. As 3G traffic continues to fall and 4G traffic continues to rise, repurposing this block of low band spectrum gives a great customer experience in the most efficient way possible. And we have outlined a roadmap which enables us to pivot to 5G to stay ahead of customer usage.”
There were plenty of other interesting conversations, including why 5G is rolling out slower than 4G did, Vodafone UK’s capex budget and why OpenRAN isn’t necessarily the best thing since sliced bread, but you’ll have to listen to the Telecoms.com podcast that will be published on Monday to hear about them.
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