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Nov 27 2017

Build 4G or save energy? China Unicom just did both

Does adding radio capacity to handle more network traffic always lead to rising operational costs?

It’s a question many operators confront. As 4G captures the attention of more and more people (and machines), traffic demand is inevitably rising. Operators face a cost crunch – revenue not keeping pace with OPEX.

A big part of the operating costs of radio networks is the energy they use. Saving a few percent is always worthwhile. Saving 84% of energy spend would be much, much better.

That was the achievement of China Unicom as it sought a solution to allow rapid rollout of a 4G network in Hunan province. The key to the achievement was Nokia Single RAN Advanced, which allows 2G and 3G sites to be upgraded to 4G within a day. As well as rapid deployment, China Unicom has benefited from capital expenditure 48% lower than conventional solutions, while also seeing an 86% reduction in radio network operational costs.

Watch how China Unicom achieved 86% energy savings

Sharing for saving

With a Nokia Single RAN solution, all radio technologies run on one hardware platform, all implemented by single software. Sharing cuts complexity because fewer boxes are needed, while running GSM, WCDMA and LTE in one base station reduces energy consumption compared to deploying the same technologies on separate base stations. A single transport backhaul connection shared by 2G, 3G and 4G technologies can reduce backhaul carbon emissions by up to 66%.

Rapid, simple deployment and low costs have allowed China Unicom to really rack up the rate of deployment, with around 100 sites converted every month. A wide range of sites are being modernized to support LTE at 2.1 GHz, both Nokia sites and from other vendors.

The numbers also impress where it matters – between April 2016 and April 2017, China Unicom doubled the number of its LTE subscribers in the province and increased data traffic by nearly four times.

And the improvements don’t stop there. The operator plans to introduce Nokia AirScale, the platform for IoT and 5G, offering low latency and massive broadband at the same time.

So, capacity really can be increased enormously, while cutting energy and other costs at the same time.

To learn more about the Zero Emissions solution, read our eBook.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #Energy #Optimization #4G

About Harry Kuosa

Harry Kuosa is responsible for Single RAN marketing at Nokia Networks. He is passionate about making radio access networks simpler and easier to operate, and on environmental friendly solutions like Zero Emission to make a greener world. He has a BSc in electrical engineering and has held conference presentations at many international events.