Vodafone plans 1,500 energy-efficient 5G radios after trials halve energy consumption

Pictured: Vodafone's 'Speechmark' office in Southwark

During the trials, one of the units, made by Ericsson, was installed on the roof of Vodafone’s Speechmark office in Southwark. Vodafone saw energy consumption decrease by a daily average of 43%, and as much as 55% at off-peak times.

Following these results, the mobile network operator is planning to deploy 1,500 of the Ericsson antenna-integrated radio solution units – the firm’s AIR 3227 model – by April 2022. Locations will be selected across the UK. Ericsson said in a statement that it has designed the model for quicker installation, as it weighs half as much as the previous generation of units.

“Our strategy is simple; turn off anything we don’t need, modernise our network where possible, and use the most energy-efficient options available without compromising the service we deliver to our customers,” Vodafone UK’s chief network officer Andrea Dona said.

“The success of this trial allows us to explore new ways we can more effectively manage the energy consumption of our network with our partner Ericsson. There is no silver bullet for managing network energy consumption – it is about putting sustainability at the heart of every decision and adding up all the small gains to make a material difference.”

Vodafone is notably working to achieve net-zero operational emissions in the UK by 2027 and net-zero emissions across the value chain globally by 2040.

Earlier this summer, the telecommunications firm kick-started a trial of ‘smart’ methods of delivering energy flexibility at electricity substations, designed to improve efficiency and cut emissions, in partnership with UK Power Networks. During that trial, computers with 5G capacity are sharing data regarding electricity demand, grid mix and other metrics in real-time.

Other businesses in the sector touting the energy efficiency benefits of 5G include AT&T, which this week pledged to help business clients avoid at least one billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, Virgin Media O2 and BT.

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Sarah George

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