Machine learning helps cut 5G power by half

September 03, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Machine learning helps cut 5G power by half
Ericsson has used a range of techniques including machine learning to cut power consumption in a 5G radio and antenna system by half

A 5G prototype system from Ericsson on Vodafone UK’s central London office has shown an average power saving of 43 percent and 55 percent off peak savings

The controlled deployment of Ericsson’s AIR 3227 antenna-integrated radio access network (RAN) system is also half the weight of 4G antenna systems to help the rollout of 5G networks and 4G upgrades.

The saving comes from the power management and less requirement for thermal management as a result. Software features such as Micro Sleep Tx and the Low Energy Scheduler Solution can reduce radio equipment energy consumption by up to 15 percent while maintaining the same performance. Ericsson has also been developing a Machine Learning (ML) algorithm was developed to observe, predict, and respond to the data traffic.

Six trial MIMO radio units were identified across urban and rural locations in Portgual and the ML algorithms were exposed to four weeks of traffic data at each site, then allowed control over Sleep Mode activation at each site when activity at a radio site dropped below a learned threshold. Data was routed to a nearby site, and the low-activity unit powered down until demand increased.

The ML Sleep Mode management delivered 14 percent savings in energy consumption at each site, outperforming manual management.

Ericsson says this approach of tailoring energy efficiency at each site could be introduced across the Vodafone network. 1500 of the new radios will now be deployed across Vodafone’s network by April 2022, helping to reduce Vodafone’s forecasted energy consumption of its future 5G network.

The move is also seen as a push-back to the growing OpenRAN movement by highlighting the advantage of an end-to-end design optimisation

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“Our strategy is simple; turn off anything we don’t need, replace legacy equipment with up-to-date alternatives and use the most energy efficient options available,” said Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone UK. “The success of this trial allows us to explore new ways we can more effectively manage the energy consumption of our network with Ericsson. There is no silver bullet to manage our 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.”

Björn Odenhammar, Chief Technology Officer, Networks and Managed Services, Ericsson UK and Ireland, says: “Building on the success of an award-winning 5G network in London, it is another fantastic achievement for Vodafone and Ericsson to reduce network energy consumption by a daily average of 43 percent. Sustainability is central to Ericsson’s purpose and our new radio will help Vodafone to reduce network energy consumption, simplify network rollout and efficiently manage the expected growth in data traffic of both current and future 5G networks.”

Ericsson is  supporting Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G Core Standalone for packet core applications and the two companies have also been collaborating to reduce the environmental impact of site upgrades and speed up network deployment through the use of drones and Ericsson’s Intelligent Site Engineering service.

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Picture: 
Ericsson's 5G antenna-integrated radio system on the room of Vodafone's London office

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