Network-Based Energy Saving Opportunities in RAN for Improved TCO

Energy-efficient Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment is key to reducing mobile network operator (MNOs) total cost of ownership (TCO) while ensuring a sustainable network carbon footprint [1]. The upcoming 3GPP Release 18 [2] introduces energy savings (ES) functionality to help improve network energy efficiency and costs without sacrificing network performance.

The introduction of open architecture as seen in O-RAN provides system designers with an opportunity to use cross-layer optimization strategies to improve end-to-end (E2E) efficiencies. This white paper describes opportunities for improving network TCO through innovations in RAN energy efficiency by evaluating potential OpEx savings. An E2E network optimization approach using intelligent network controllers, AI/ML frameworks, and deployment of feature-enhanced open radio units (O-RUs) is needed to achieve ambitious TCO reduction goals. Moreover, this paper shows ways to leverage an open architecture approach to achieve these gains.

RAN sites account for approximately 70% to 80% of network energy consumption, with radio units (RUs) accounting for up to 75% of that consumption [3]. Reducing RU energy consumption directly translates into significant operational savings and consequently lower TCO. However, network energy savings (NES) strategies must not impact network performance, and the gains from pursuing NES approaches need to be quantified to prove that they achieve their intended result. This forms the basis of Dell’s approach to measure, monitor, manage, and validate innovative features in its own network equipment design directed at NES for improved TCO. This white paper presents example NES use cases for proving the achievability of such savings.

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