As the expectations for 5G’s benefits are high, the situation on the ground is quite different: power requirements at the system level were often neglected, and the deployment faces significant hurdles in maintaining the promises of 5G and supporting all the new features (bandwidth, response time and ubiquitous intelligence). Energy infrastructure limitations are at risk to severely curtail the achievable performance, thus affecting ROI and the business case for the proposed applications.
Each generation of cellular technology has been successful in relation to its ability to provide increased services at a lower cost, leveraging both Moore’s Law and increases in channel capacity utilization, but with 5G both levers are limited in their ability to deliver overall energy utilization improvements. Higher energy usage is now required to enable a lot of the benefits, but its cost has become a dominant factor in both CAPEX and OPEX. Eliminating the “5G Energy Gap” requires a comprehensive focus on energy efficiency to address the bottlenecks and maximize the viability of the technology across the different use cases. Such effort may not only deliver on the promises, but also lead to a more sustainable and equitable distribution of the services.