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5G’s green footprint stretches across ‘railroads, waterways and airways of tomorrow,’ says Qualcomm exec

At CES 2022, Qualcomm’s VP of economic strategy claims that the green outlook for 5G greatly surpasses that of previous generations of cellular technology

LAS VEGAS – During a panel discussion at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Kirti Gupta, VP of economic strategy at Qualcomm, claimed that the green outlook for 5G greatly surpasses that of previous generations of cellular technology. Further, she argued that the transformative promise of 5G, and because it is designed to “connect everything, everywhere,” it is paramount that it enables a sustainable future.

“I see 5G’s role as pervasive in society,” she said, adding that the technology will transform nearly every industry as enhance and accelerate new technologies. In doing so, she argued, 5G is the fundamental infrastructure driving the future connected world.

“In that way, I think of [5G] as the railroads, the waterways and the airways of tomorrow, so it’s critical that our engineers, when they were designing this foundational layer of connectivity, they thought about […] how to make it more efficient,” continued Gupta.

According to a recent report published by Qualcomm, several use cases will significantly benefit from the deployment of 5G including transportation, agriculture, energy, manufacturing and architecture.

Referencing this report, Gupta shared that by 2025, the deployment of 5G is projected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 350 million metric tons, an impact comparable to removing 81 million vehicles from U.S. roads in any given year. Water optimization is another key area explored in the report, and thanks to things like smart sensoring made possible by 5G’s low latency and high reliability, it might be possible by the same year to reduce water usage by 450 billion gallons, an amount equal to more than the water usage of 4 million U.S households every year.

But how exactly does 5G make all this green progress possible? According to Gupta, there are three important answers to the question.

First, by separating the signaling and the data when sharing information across the network, the amount of signaling can be reduced, which makes the network more efficient. This is particularly important because this increases the efficiency of every unit of data being shared, and at Gupta pointed out, with 5G, “many, many more units of data” will be shared compared to current networks.

The second element is improving efficiency of the network nodes — again, there will be many more of these in a 5G world — by introducing energy saving features like a sleep mode for when a node is redundant or not being used.

“But most importantly,” Gupta said, saving the best for last, “5G is designed to be a system that’s for different kind of network topographies and different use cases.”

Different networks — urban, rural, dense, not dense — have different traffic flows and different topologies, and therefore, will require different efficiency methods. And 5G, said Gupta, is equipped to handle that.

“5G can adapt energy efficiency methods based on the kind of network topography and based on the kind of network traffic,” she explained. “That is the most important thing that we didn’t have before that really enables a big leap in sustainability methods.”

Qualcomm has been a prominent voice is the push towards more green cellular networks. The company over the summer proposed several methods to reduce base station power consumption. One of these methods, Super-QAM, is an approach where some of the radio transmission impairments are cancelled in an iterative manner to allow higher order modulation. With this technique, Qualcomm was able to significantly increase peak data rates, which reduced base station transmission duration, and in turn, reduced power consumption.


Catherine Sbeglia Nin
Catherine Sbeglia Nin
Catherine is the Managing Editor for RCR Wireless News and Enterprise IoT Insights, where she covers topics such as Wi-Fi, network infrastructure and edge computing. She also hosts Arden Media's podcast Well, technically... After studying English and Film & Media Studies at The University of Rochester, she moved to Madison, WI. Having already lived on both coasts, she thought she’d give the middle a try. So far, she likes it very much.

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