Operators express concern over cost implications of 5G networks

Operators express concern over cost implications of 5G networks

Recent research suggests that telecom operators are optimistic about the future services 5G networks will enable although they fear that energy consumption could increase by up to 170 percent by 2026.

Technology analyst firm 451 Research in association with Vertiv has released the findings of a survey which revealed a good sense of optimism about the services 5G will enable and the interplay with edge computing. Most 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 centre 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.

“The challenge for operators considering 5G will be choosing the most mature use cases, verticals and eco-systems where they can play a meaningful and sustainable role,” said Giordano Albertazzi, president for Vertiv in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

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”, said 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.”

In addition to this latest survey, Vertiv has been conducting extensive research in the field, analysing more than 100 use cases to define four main edge computing archetypes and recently releasing the paper, “Turning on 5G: Using Edge Archetypes to Identify the Most Mature Cases,” to quantify the potential impact of specific 5G implementations.

As well as the important touch-points between 5G and edge computing, the study examined 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).