AI and analytics key to telco energy-efficiency efforts – poll result

  • Network operators need to reduce their network power consumption to cut costs and meet sustainability targets
  • Using AI and data analytics applications is the most effective way to achieve these goals, according to our recent Green Network Summit poll
  • Sourcing greener tech and shutting down legacy networks are also deemed to be effective measures
  • Shifting processes to the public cloud is still not regarded as an energy-saving measure

Artificial intelligence, it seems, is the answer to most questions these days and it was no different when we asked the audience of our recent Green Network Summit to vote in a poll focused on network power reduction strategies. 

The question we put to them was: How can telcos most efficiently reduce their energy-consumption levels?

We provided seven possible answers and respondents could select as many as they deemed applicable.

A significant majority, 69% of respondents, voted for the option ‘Use AI and data analytics for real-time ops management’. This is certainly a sign of the times, but not a knee-jerk reaction to the current high levels of AI hype, as telcos have been testing and implementing AI-enabled network management tools for some years already, particularly those that can help to automatically power down mobile network sites when they are not in use (or are not expected to be used). Orange, for example, explained as long ago as 2020 how AI tools were helping to reduce radio access network power consumption – see Orange’s ‘test and learn’ approach to AI.

It’s interesting to note, too, that this option also scored highly in the Green Network Summit 2023 poll we conducted a year ago, except the score was slightly lower (at 62%) and it wasn’t the option that attracted the most votes – you can see those 2023 results here.  

So what did attract the most votes a year ago? It was ‘Source more power-efficient technology from vendors’ – that option landed the silver medal this time around with votes from 65% respondents. That’s still a high score, of course, but down from the 70% it attracted a year ago. 

Does this mean the community is losing faith in the ability of vendors to develop more sustainable systems? The members of TelecomTV’s DSP Leaders Council clearly don’t think so.

According to the results of a recent survey conducted with our council members, the development of energy-efficient network systems is regarded as being of the utmost importance to network operators over the next three years – see Green networks, next-gen OSS/BSS vital to telco developments – report.

But back to the Green Network Summit poll… Not far behind, and attracting votes from 57% of respondents, is the option ‘Consolidate platforms and sunset old networks’, which is a move cited by many operators as a way to reduce power consumption – running numerous networks comprising ageing equipment is guaranteed to result in eye-watering energy bills. Many mobile operators in developed markets are now switching off their 3G mobile networks and that should make a big difference to their power consumption levels, as will the trend towards deploying consolidated network infrastructure that can service multiple wireless and fixed connections.  

There was also notable support from our summit attendees for the options ‘Accelerate innovation and fund green tech’ and ‘Generate more of their own green energy’, both of which attracted votes from 46% of our respondents. It’s perhaps surprising that the home-grown green energy option did not score higher (the score is actually down slightly compared with a year ago), as this is a growing trend among telcos. In fact, it’s likely that mobile network-specific power generation and storage innovations will be displayed prominently on the show floor at MWC24 in Barcelona later this month. 

Also surprising is that the option ‘Share physical network resources’ once again did not receive more votes – just like last year, it attracted votes from 44% of respondents. 

What is clearly not regarded as an effective way for telcos to reduce their energy consumption levels is to ‘Outsource as much as possible to the public cloud’, an option that attracted votes from just 14% of our respondents, pretty much in line with the 13% this option attracted in the poll of a year ago. 

You can watch all of the Green Network Summit sessions, including the Q&A sessions where specialist speakers address questions from the TelecomTV community, on demand and keep up to speed with all of the industry’s key energy-efficiency developments by checking out our Green Network channel.    

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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