In the family of the supposed disadvantages of 5G, I ask … the increase in energy consumption. Missing! Nokia does not seem to have this card. The Finnish company published a study on Tuesday December 2nd to prove that 5G is not as energy-intensive as you think. “5G networks are up to 90% more efficient than older 4G networks in terms of energy per traffic unit,” the company said in its press release.
To achieve these results, Nokia has partnered with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica. They analyzed the Iberian network for three months in eleven scenarios, ranging from a situation with very low consumption to a peak time. Why ? Because the 5G network is based on wireless access networks (RAN). It doesn’t need to be near a 5G antenna to work. By definition, 5G uses less energy to connect to stations than 4G’s architecture, making it more efficient.
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With 5G, a user can consume up to 220 GB / month
If the subject of energy consumption is so important, it is because the 5G network promises speeds that are up to ten times faster than currently. Whoever says more speed also says more traffic: in a similar amount of time, we can do a lot more things like downloading two movies instead of just one in our favorite video-on-demand application. 5G leads the way at home too – what can I say? – in the city or even in the fully networked country! According to an Ericsson study, one in five users could use up to 220 GB / month in 2025, compared to an average of 2.5 GB / month today. “It is therefore important that energy consumption does not increase to the same extent,” estimates the Finnish telecommunications company, which has released 500 million euros to accelerate the development of its 5G.
Energy consumption is also one of the spearheads of 5G critics. The latter doesn’t have good press, especially in Europe, where all the evils are credited: the air waves would be harmful to health, the 5G antennas would be linked to the spread of the coronavirus, or even 5G would be energy-intensive and would therefore participate in the warming. Climate. Because of this, many French cities are reluctant to install it. In September, 70 French MPs asked for a moratorium, suspending the file in France while they waited for studies to break down or reinforce prejudice. The moratorium was ignored by President Emmanuel Macron, who announced in September 2020 that it would be France’s turn to introduce 5G.
The 5G debate might hide another
Will studies like Nokia be enough to change the minds of critics? Not really, because they only take into account a small part of the problem: “The analysis of energy consumption should not be limited to that of 5G itself, which only concerns the transmission of information: it must take into account the processing of the data transmitted,” explains Alain Cappy , Professor Emeritus of Electronics, in an article on The Conversation. It would therefore be necessary to take into account the consumption of electronic devices that send and receive data (i.e. our computers, smartphones, etc.), but these currently have poor energy efficiency on.
In reality, the question of 5G’s energy consumption hides a much more global problem: our exponential use of the internet and connected objects. While the 5G network can bring significant improvements in many areas, other applications seem more anecdotal and redundant. Should we limit our consumption, improve our facilities as much as possible, and set an order of use? Huge debate!