Go Green with mmWave Repeaters
by Kent Lundgren, VP of Marketing
Carriers have always faced challenges and opportunities. Mobile ARPU (average revenue per user) has been declining for years. mmWave FWA provides a new source of wireless ARPU by outperforming cable and fiber.
But carriers are facing a new, perhaps more daunting challenge. Driven by billions of subscribers and IoT devices, 5G is expected to double or triple carriers’ energy costs. For the planet, experts debate whether 5G-enabled efficiency improvements can counteract the additional operational and embodiment energy required to power 5G. But one thing is clear: 30W mmWave repeaters reduce the need for kW+ mmWave base stations; thus, for a given coverage area, repeaters and base stations consume less energy — up to 44% — and emit less CO2 than base stations alone.
According to MTN Consulting, a typical 5G base station consumes up to twice or more the power of a 4G base station. China Mobile, which leads the world in 5G deployments, says its 5G base stations carry five times the traffic as 4G-only base stations, pushing up power consumption. The typical 5G site, claims Huawei, require over 11.5 kilowatts, up nearly 70% from a base station deploying a mix of 2G, 3G and 4G radios. 5G macro base stations often require several new, power-hungry components, including mmWave transceivers, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), faster data converters, high-power/low-noise amplifiers and integrated antennas.
For mmWave deployments where signal propagation is limited, an obvious way to reduce power consumption is to deploy fewer power-hungry base stations while using repeaters to preserve or expand coverage. Perhaps it’s too obvious to some. Ericsson advocates “building with precision” in “Breaking the Energy Curve: An Innovative Approach to Reducing Mobile Network Energy Use.” Its idea of precision, however, does not include selling fewer base stations.
mmWave repeaters save carriers money and network deployment time. But what do they do for the planet? Using only mmWave base stations, i.e., “gNBs,” to cover the top 300 cities in the U.S. will, at 1.2 kW each, consume 1.35 million kW of power, 11.87 billion kWh/year. Reducing the number of gNBs with Pivot 5G (.04 kW each) network repeaters and Echo 5G (.014 kW each) subscriber repeaters will consume 752,400 kW, 6.59 billion kWh/year. Measured in tons of CO2 saved, that equates to 478,685 fewer vehicles driving around for an entire year.
Now that’s what I call building with precision.