NGMN tackles vRAN energy usage measurement

  • NGMN continues its work on exploring how telcos can be more sustainable
  • It has issued a new publication on measuring energy consumption in virtualised RAN (vRAN) infrastructure
  • The alliance highlights benefits around open-source technology and higher transparency for vRAN efficiencies

The adoption of open-source technology and increased network transparency are key to accurately measuring energy consumption in virtualised radio access network (vRAN) architectures, according to a new paper from the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN).

In its latest publication, “Green Future Networks: Metering in Virtualised RAN Infrastructure”, the alliance has taken under consideration views from mobile network operators (MNOs), vendors and research institutes to provide several key recommendations related to the measurement of energy use in vRAN deployments.

In one of its findings, the NGMN has underlined the potential of utilising the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) standard Redfish, which offers simple and secure management for converged, hybrid IT and the software-defined datacentre, along with open-source tools such as Kepler and Prometheus. 

“This combination enables MNOs to perform network-wide, real-time, and accurate estimations of IT-infrastructure performance and power consumption”, the NGMN stated in its report. 

It further noted that these estimations are regarded as “accurate enough” so they can be considered as measurements.

Another recommendation highlights the need for enhancing current 3GPP virtual network function (VNF)/cloud network function (CNF) energy consumption estimation frameworks, so that there is more precise measurement of energy usage.

In another takeaway, the publication notes that operating models that focus on outsourced processes impact the capabilities of MNOs to manage the performance and the energy consumption of vRAN functions. “To cover the requirements of MNOs – partly based on legal obligations – individually negotiated APIs between CSPs [cloud service providers] and MNOs have to replace standardised FCAPS [fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security] interfaces, if these are not exposed by the CSP”, the alliance noted in its report.

“Bringing together the industry to tackle our shared challenges, unlocking opportunities and providing crucial guidance to the industry is NGMN’s core mission”, said Anita Döhler, CEO at NGMN Alliance. According to Döhler, the alliance’s new publication advances “the industry’s capacity to deploy disaggregated, virtualised and cloud-native architectures, all while effectively managing energy consumption and environmental impact.”

Arash Ashouriha, chairman of the NGMN Alliance Board and SVP of group technology at Deutsche Telekom, concurred, adding that the alliance aims to deliver "vital recommendations for industry standards, facilitating more precise and real-time estimations of energy consumed by virtualised or cloud-native network functions.”

“This publication marks a crucial stride towards fostering greater transparency in energy consumption within virtualised infrastructure”, claimed Laurent Leboucher, member of the NGMN Alliance board and group CTO at Orange.

This is the latest report by the NGMN tackling sustainability-related challenges and opportunities in the industry: Earlier reports outlined energy-efficiency enablers for the RAN, best practices and main roadblocks to energy consumption reductions, as well as how telcos can use more sustainable materials when they design and manufacture mobile networks.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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