5G is not an ecological disaster, says Nokia. According to a study carried out by the equipment manufacturer in Spain, the mobile network of the future consumes less electricity than 4G. Ultimately, the arrival of 5G will therefore help save energy and offset the massive growth in data consumption.
5G was and still in the sights of activists and elected environmentalists. In a column published in September, 70 elected environmentalists claim that 5G will be accompanied by “big inflation in electricity consumption”, contributing to global warming.
To wring the mystery on preconceived ideas, network equipment manufacturer Nokia and Telefónica, a Spanish telecommunications operator, carried out a study on the actual power consumption of 5G. Verdict: “5G networks are up to 90% more efficient in terms of energy per unit of traffic than old 4G networks,” Nokia said in a press release published on December 2, 2020.
5G IS A GREENER TECHNOLOGY THAN 4G
For three months, Nokia engineers studied the power consumption of the 5G antennas installed by Telefónica. For a period of time, the study looked at the actual consumption of the network during periods of lull or during periods of overload. A real-time monitoring system kept a dashboard of the amount of power consumed per Mbps according to the distribution of the traffic load.
Despite the strain on the network at times during testing, power consumption remained lower than with 4G. The 5G network relies on wireless access networks. To function in the best conditions, these access networks do not need to be located near 5G antennas. In fact, they use less energy to connect to stations than the 4G architecture. “5G technology is significantly more efficient than traditional technologies,” says Nokia.
5G can transmit more bits of data per kilowatt of power than previous wireless networks. The explosion in data consumption (which should reach 200 GB/month in 2025), brandished like a scarecrow by environmentalists, will therefore not be accompanied by a colossal increase in electricity consumption. On the contrary, nascent 5G networks are better prepared for increasing data consumption than current 4G networks. “5G is a native greener technology,” concludes Nokia.