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More than 90% of operators fear energy bills from 5G and edge

01 Mar 2019

Endless hype encompasses the potential of 5G and edge computing, with the technologies maintaining almost daily conversations.

But while optimism surrounds the services 5G will enable and the interplay with edge computing, a new study from Vertiv and technology analyst firm 451 Research has revealed there is still a significant amount of misgivings among telecoms operators.

The survey questioned more than 100 global telecoms operators about the opportunities and potential obstacles of deploying 5G services and the impact on edge computing adoption.

The majority of telecoms operators surveyed believe the 5G era will start in earnest in 2021 in all geographies, with 88 percent of respondents planning to deploy 5G in 2021-2022.

However, the price tag that comes with increased energy usage is clearly a concern, as more than 90 percent of respondents believe 5G will result in higher energy costs and hence are interested in technologies and services that improve efficiency.

This is consistent with internal analysis by Vertiv, which finds the move to 5G is likely to increase total network energy consumption by 150-170 percent by 2026, with the largest increases in macro, node and network data centre areas.

“The challenge for operators considering 5G will be choosing the most mature use cases, verticals and eco-systems where they can play a meaningful and sustainable role,” says Vertiv Europe, Middle East, and Africa president Giordano Albertazzi.

“The research Vertiv has undertaken into edge computing use cases and archetypes, together with this latest survey with 451, will help our operator customers and telecoms partners to build more robust business cases for 5G investments and associated edge compute deployments.”

In regards to edge and 5G specifically, the survey reveals that a large majority of operators have deployed (37 percent) or plan to deploy (47 percent) edge compute that is aligned with mobile infrastructure – also called multi-access edge computing (MEC).

Research vice president at 451 Research, Brian Partridge says the survey brings clarity on telecom operators’ hopes and fears around 5G and edge deployments

“The two toughest connectivity challenges for supporting 5G topologies were revealed to be upgrading access and aggregation layer networks and adding new backhaul links,” says Partridge.

“Survey respondents indicated that the availability of high-quality connectivity to distributed POPs and ease of site acquisition were viewed as the most critical enablers to 5G success. We were frankly surprised by some of these results and believe it brings clarity to the level of transformation the industry now faces.”

Vertiv Asia senior director for telecoms Danny Wong says there’s no doubt that 5G is the next big thing for communications and mobile networks.

“It is understandable, however, that there are concerns when it comes to deploying this technology,” says Wong.

“It is critical for operators to have the right infrastructure in place that would allow them to rollout 5G in the most efficient manner. By understanding the different use cases as outlined by Vertiv, and with the aid of the 451 Research survey, it is our hope that they can make informed decisions when it comes to investing in their critical infrastructure.”

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