Telefonica O2 Looks to Ericsson to Deliver on 5G Energy Plan

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

• In a report released in August, O2 explained how 5G technology will help it reach its goals for 2025 – and well beyond.

• The report calls out the vital role of its primary infrastructure partner Ericsson in helping it “Break the Energy Curve” as it rolls out 5G for O2.

UK operator Telefonica O2 put its ‘green’ stake in the ground in March 2020 by announcing plans to dramatically reduce carbon emissions across its business and network by 2025. In a report released in August, O2 explained how 5G technology will help it reach its goals for 2025 – and well beyond.

In the new report, O2 made the case that 5G will play a crucial role in four key vertical markets – i.e., utilities/home energy, transport, manufacturing, and healthcare. Among the report’s headline findings:

• By utilizing 5G and connected solutions, the four targeted industries could avoid producing up to 269 megatons of CO2 by 2035 – nearly the equivalent of England’s total emissions in 2018.

• The greatest impact will be in the utilities and home energy sector, where 5G can help foster a ‘greener’ national energy grid and power a new generation of smart home applications. In total, O2 estimates a total CO2 savings potential of 181 megatons. In particular, O2 estimates that smart thermostats and heat pumps have the potential to be the most important 5G-powered contributors to greenhouse gas reductions.

• 5G-powered autonomous vehicles and new transportation management systems can reduce reliance on traditional fossil-fueled vehicles, eliminating 43 megatons of CO2 emissions. O2 believes that enabling employees to work from home, even beyond COVID-19, represents an enormous opportunity for CO2 reduction.

• Manufacturing industry improvements such as automated production lines could eliminate 40 megatons of CO2. 5G will therefore facilitate “higher flexibility, lower cost, and shorter lead times for factory floor production reconfiguration, layout changes, and alteration.”

• New e-health applications, enabled by 5G IoT devices, can reduce carbon emissions by 6 megatons – while also improving patient outcomes. The gamut of 5G-enabled applications includes connected ambulances, remote/virtual appointments, predictive maintenance of critical medical equipment, and 5G-connected inventory management devices.

O2’s new plan also acknowledged that deploying 5G carries its own internal carbon reduction challenges. The prospect of millions of 5G-connected devices and the requirement to build new cell towers to meet rising demand for 5G is likely to cause an upward push on O2’s energy consumption. To that end, O2 points to the need to rely on renewable energy sources and to share infrastructure with other operators where possible. Case in point: the UK’s Shared Rural Network being jointly developed by O2, EE, Three, and Vodafone.

For 5G efficiency, O2 specifically called out its key infrastructure partner, Ericsson, and Ericsson’s “Breaking the Energy Curve” plan to ensure that 5G is ten times more energy efficient than 4G.







Source: O2 “A greener connected future” report (August 2020).

Specifically, O2 called out Ericsson’s four-step approach to 5G network deployment that includes:

1) Hardware modernization

2) Energy-saving software

3) Precise 5G network planning

4) AI-fueled infrastructure operations

O2 provided a strong endorsement of Ericsson’s success thus far. While it is still early days, O2 indicated that its 5G network is already five times more efficient than its 4G/LTE network. Despite being in the early days of deployment, Ericsson appears on track to meet its goal of making O2’s 5G network ten times more efficient than 4G/LTE by 2023.

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