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More Than 90 Percent of Operators Fear Increasing Energy Costs for 5G and Edge

Operators are optimistic about the future services 5G will enable, but estimates suggest network energy consumption could increase by up to 170 percent by 2026

5G and Edge

In-depth survey reveals a good sense of optimism about the services 5G will enable and the interplay with edge computing.

Vertiv, together with technology analyst firm 451 Research finds that majority of telecoms operators surveyed believe the 5G era will start in earnest in 2021 in all geographies, with 88 percent of respondents planning to deploy 5G in 2021-2022.

However, more than 90 percent of respondents believe 5G will result in higher energy costs and are interested in technologies and services that improve efficiency.

This is consistent with internal analysis by Vertiv, which finds the move to 5G is likely to increase total network energy consumption by 150-170 percent by 2026, with the largest increases in macro, node and network data center areas.

The survey questioned more than 100 global telecoms operators about the opportunities and potential obstacles of deploying 5G services and the impact on edge computing adoption. Vertiv and 451 Research shared details of the findings at Mobile World Congress on February 27th in Barcelona, Spain.

“In India 5G will add more impetus to the app-based economy and improve user experience. India has the potential to be a global frontrunner in deployment and use of 5G networks, however, there are concerns around investments in deployment by service providers in India. Apart from investment another big concern is the high cost of electricity in India, which is crucial for service providers to manage the operations of networks. In the current scenario of tariff wars between the top three players, we expect the service providers to look for technologies that will optimize running costs when the 5G networks will be deployed,” said Dinesh Dhut, director – telecom, Vertiv India.

Regarding edge and 5G specifically, the survey reveals that a large majority of operators have deployed (37 percent) or plan to deploy (47 percent) edge compute that is aligned with mobile infrastructure – also called multi-access edge computing (MEC).

“This survey brings us clarity on telecom operators’ hopes and fears around 5G and edge deployments,” says Brian Partridge, research vice president for 451 Research. “The two toughest connectivity challenges for supporting 5G topologies were revealed to be upgrading access and aggregation layer networks and adding new backhaul links. Survey respondents indicated that the availability of high-quality connectivity to distributed POPs and ease of site acquisition were viewed as the most critical enablers to 5G success. We were frankly surprised by some of these results and believe it brings clarity to the level of transformation the industry now faces.”

As well as the important touch-points between 5G and edge computing, the study from 451 Research and Vertiv examines some of the potential obstacles to 5G adoption and, importantly, the measures operators can take to mitigate them, such as Energy Savings as a Service (ESaaS). According to the survey, more than 90 percent of respondents said they are either extremely or moderately interested in ESaaS.

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