Answer to Written Question: Further clarification regarding 5G energy consumption

(Source: European Parliament)



Answer given by Mr Breton

on behalf of the European Commission


As the Commission already mentioned in its reply to written question P-006513/2020, as the overall amount of transferred data is forecast to increase, it will be essential to reduce the energy consumption per data unit.

The total energy consumption in mobile networks depends on the network topology, the mobile technology used, and the data traffic transferred. As 5G network elements are more energy-efficient than older (2G/3G/4G) elements, total energy consumption will be smaller for the same amount of data transferred, as a higher portion of the traffic goes via the 5G elements. Additional base stations and local 5G networks will only be deployed if necessary to carry data traffic in relevant locations to serve users or Internet of Things (IoT) devices. If older technologies like 4G were used for such traffic, the energy consumption would be higher. The number of connected IoT devices as such does not have a significant impact on the energy consumption of a mobile network.

5G has been designed with energy saving features that are not part of earlier generations, including sleep mode (no consumption when there is no traffic) and beam directivity enabled through multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology, allowing to direct the energy only towards an active terminal. This enables energy savings of up to 90% of the consumption of the same traffic when carried by 4G equipment. Usually new network elements replace older technology elements, so total energy efficiency of the network will thus improve.

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