5G industry news

Green Future Networks, the strategic NGMN initiative

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Eleanor Brash on 23 Sep 2021
  • Last modified 23 Sep 2021
UK5G is at 5G World this week. We’re at Stand 5G110 – if you’re there in person pop by and say hello – and we’ll also be blogging from a couple of the sessions. This write-up is based on a talk from the "Sustainable 5G Networks" track.

Last year the NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks) Alliance went through a transformation to address the industry’s main challenges. NGMN is an international alliance whose membership includes major operators such as Vodafone, China Mobile, Orange, SK Telecom, T-Mobile as well as most of the leading mobile technology vendors – Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei among them. 

One of their three new strategic focus areas is Green Future Networks, within which they are aiming to provide the ICT sector with impactful industry guidance on sustainability in order to aid the development of sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions.

They have already published a number of white papers in this area, including “Sustainability Challenges and Initiatives in Mobile Networks” which covers the climate change background, greenhouse gas emissions, measurement concepts, emissions targets and so on, linking them to the ICT sector which represents 1.4% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions (although it has a wider enabling effect across sectors). The second white paper that they have released is that on “Network equipment eco-design and end-to-end service footprint” which investigates the strategies to reduce the environmental impact of equipment; it also presents a methodology for life cycle assessment and brings in concepts such as the optimisation of raw material use, refurbishment, green manufacturing and packaging. Further white papers are due imminently on Network Energy Efficiency and Metering.

NGMN urges all ICT companies to align their climate goals with a 1.5 degree trajectory, to increase their share of renewable energy usage (with the goal of ultimately becoming carbon neutral) and to follow eco design principles.  To achieve these targets they are offering six recommendations that may be of interest to the UK5G community:

  1. Regular measurement and reporting of environmental KPIs to increase transparency, with the goal of eventually moving to consistent, industry-wide environmental benchmarking
  2. Limit critical raw materials usage by exploring circularity principles which offer an interesting opportunity to the ICT sector
  3. Related to this, investigate new business models related to circular economy principles
  4. Focus on internal energy saving features that dynamically reduce network power consumption in low load conditions
  5. Use lean packaging principles
  6. Increase the number of metering points in ICT equipment and integrate automatic issue detection. The industry cannot optimise what it cannot measure.

If you’re not already a member of the NGMN Alliance, you can find out more about Membership here. Meanwhile UK5G’s Climate & Environment Working Group is also working to address the issues and impact that 5G will have on the world’s climate. You can find out more about their work here.