Modernizing Energy Efficiency through Digitalization of Telecom Operators

Nikola Sucevic

The largest companies in the world by market capitalization stand on ‘Internet’ and the instrument they play with is ‘Data’. Significant chunk of this internet traffic is generated and consumed by mobile phones. Telecom operators providing internet services to mobile phones no longer wish to or can remain owners of the ‘Dumb Pipe’. They are exploring new business models to increase revenues, trying to position themselves as Digital Companies. In the wake of this transformation, some aspects related to energy appetite of ‘New Telecom Data Flood’ are also looked into. Information is not energy free and it should not be wasted – unnecessarily duplicated, transmitted and re-generated. These are the three main areas in telecom where digital transformation is urgent.

Indoor Solutions

In 2G/3G/4G mobile networks, most of the indoor mobile traffic is served by outdoor macro cells. However, this will become infeasible in the 5G era, as 5G’s higher frequencies are ineffective at penetrating into buildings. We will need to bring cells closer to people with surgical accuracy to achieve dreamed speed and latency. User data, building models and roads info will be digitally processed for choosing right places or right hardware. Mistakes would lead to energy waste in much higher levels than in previous technologies. Modeling on data, traffic simulations and user profiling will become the most important activity of telecom. Without these skills transformation telecoms will not be able to function efficiently. Unfortunately transformation is hard and telecoms sometime ‘blame doctors for sicknesses’.

Enabling IoT

Looking beyond being an internet provider to users, catering to internet needs of connected devices is the next big mission waiting for telecoms. Connected devices are going to bring with them huge influx of data and this means additional infrastructure boom throughout the internet traffic supply chain. Data storage and processing needs for the connected devices is the reason for Data Center business being such a lucrative one for the biggies in the digital world. But we cannot even theoretically send all this data across the globe. AI is powerful but still works on very small scale cause it needs huge amount of data. Compressed sensing in IoT is a statistical technique brought into telecom to reduce the need for huge data for decision making, with optimal energy consumption. Unfortunately not everybody still understands this technology and there is still no enough marketing hype to push it forward.

Edge Computing

As new interactive games and applications take over, the time taken for connected devices to process and exchange information needs to come down. This calls for connectivity with low latency and infrastructure for better processing speeds. One approach is bringing the processing centers as close to the end point as possible, termed Edge Computing. Induction of better processing power at terminal agent can reduce the need for intense centralized processing. Shift in energy distribution by this needs a detailed study. To save energy simple distribution is not enough. Even though it’s enabling the business, it’s actually less efficient way from energy consumption point. That’s why is very important to keep on optimizing our communication and stop making hype of anything that makes no difference in the direction of energy saving. Perfect technology needs to enable business as well as save energy.

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