Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent test new ways of reducing wireless network energy consumption

Two major wireless network vendors are researching ways to save wireless network operators money by reducing the amount of power they need to run their networks. In separate announcements, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) each announced new efforts geared toward saving energy--and therefore money--in wireless.

First up is Ericsson, the world's largest network equipment provider, which said it is testing two new features--Dynamic On/Off and Dual Connectivity--that are being considered for LTE Release 12. Ericsson said the functions are both geared toward lowering the power requirements of wireless network base stations.

Ericsson said Dynamic On/Off is a feature that mutes a base station when it is not transmitting data. "The benefit is two-fold: inter-cell interference reduction and the possibility for the base station to go in a lower power consumption state," Ericsson said. As for Dual Connectivity, Ericsson said the technology would allow a user to receive data from two base stations simultaneously rather than only from one. "In some cases, users will be able to download a file twice as fast as today due to the dual connectivity to the LTE network. Because users are served faster, base stations are more often inactive and thus can go more frequently in a lower power consumption state," the company said.

Ericsson said it is testing both features in collaboration with ComGreen, a joint academic and industry project partially funded by the German Ministry for Economy and Energy (BMWi).

As for Alcatel-Lucent, the company said its Bell Labs research division launched a website intended to highlight the current energy consumption of telecom networks. The company said the site, GWATT, was developed during the past year based on modeling and analysis done by "experts in Bell Labs Research and the Alcatel-Lucent CTO organization as well as forecasts from external consortia and public information."

Alcatel-Lucent said that, by using GWATT, it discovered that in 2013 telecommunications networks worldwide consumed around 69 Gigawatts of power, or what the company said is the equivalent of about 12 New York Cities. "Almost a third of that energy is consumed by the access network, the wireless and fixed onramps to the Internet that connects users to their content and applications. And that is just the picture in 2013," the company noted.

"We expect to include several new technologies and architectures currently being investigated by Bell Labs and the GreenTouch consortium," Alcatel-Lucent concluded.

For more:
- see this Ericsson release
- see this Alcatel-Lucent post

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