Green 5G for a greener, smarter Europe
Keynote speech by Dr Hui Cao, Head of Strategy and Policy at Huawei's Brussels Office, at the DigitALL debate "Vote for 5G, vote Smarter" on 12 July 2019 at the Huawei Cybersecurity Centre in Brussels
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Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Thank you very much to all of you for joining us for our lunch talk, and thanks also to those of you who are joining us online via the stream. Thank you Yingying for sharing the key findings from Huawei’s latest Sustainability Report, which I believe are a very important stage-setter for the points I would like to make today.
In recent months, various elections across the world – from Europe to Australia – have been called ‘the climate change election’. I believe the outcomes have illustrated that this description was both right and wrong. Right because climate considerations have had a major impact on the ballot box, and rightly so. Wrong because people across the world, in Europe as elsewhere, face day-to-day challenges that can make climate change appear as a long-term consideration they cannot afford to prioritise.
We know that climate change is already here and we cannot afford to ignore it. Environmental issues are closely linked to many of the other challenges we are facing today.
Just like digital, green is a horizontal aspect of policy and business. And of course, the two go hand-in-hand.
Policy makers have every reason to look to digital industries for ‘green’ answers. By answers, I mean that
• we have to take our fair share of responsibility in ensuring that the technology we deliver is as environmentally friendly as possible;
• but we can also provide innovative tools for mitigating climate change and contribute to a greener Europe.
5G lies at the core of the digital transformation process underway. I would now like to outline the answers to these two important questions: how can we make sure that 5G deployment is ‘green’ and sustainable? And how is 5G contributing to a greener, smarter Europe?
First of all, we can see that mobile networks are playing a more and more important role in our life. The forecast is that the average user will be consuming 1Gigabyte per day of mobile data by 2025. That’s over 30 Gigabytes per month. There's a fair amount of concern over the power consumption of mobile networks, especially considering the fact that they will have much larger capacity and transmit data at much faster speeds using 5G.
5G networks are already being deployed, and we anticipate that for the same geographical coverage, overall power consumption for 5G networks will typically be at the same level as 4G while 5G is able to deliver at least 10 times capacity. More importantly, 5G power consumption per bit is a mere 10% of 4G. In other words, 90% of power is saved per bit.
Digital services require a lot of power and resources. To ensure that more and better digital services do not result in a larger carbon footprint and higher consumption of natural resources, we need to take action to offset increases. Industries are working together to ensure that the new technologies will work for the benefit of society as a whole.
Let me also address the biggest concern linked to large-scale deployment of massive connectivity, which is the question of electromagnetic field exposure. This is an important public health concern and at Huawei, we take it very seriously. Just as with any other safety-related discussion, we support and implement an approach that is fact-based, rules-based and cautious.
Massive MIMO is a technology will help reduce total emitted radio power, and hence radiation levels, through smart beamforming. Th four flexible beam adjustment technologies - Azimuth, Width, Power and Topology - support 3D Coverage Patterns for Diversified Scenarios, and smartly balance coverage, interference and radiation issues.
This technology provides an option for where an administrator does not want her or his office to be covered by 5G. Huawei can provide the relevant technology excluding designated buildings or street blocks from coverage. In this way, we would not deprive the general public of the latest-generation of high-performance and high-tech networks. Maybe after a while, the minister concerned would want to get connected after all?
We have managed to achieve all these efforts through extensive innovation in 5G research, product development, and engineering.
First, we have our chips. Huawei uses highly integrated chips, which makes our boards more integrated, reduces the number of on-board components, and brings down the power consumption of modules.
Next come our innovations in system software and professional services. For example, we use artificial intelligence to cut the power consumption of wireless network equipment by 10% to 15%, without any impact on network performance. This enables optimal power savings across an entire network.
Thirdly, our hardware. We're continually making improvements in our hardware to drive power efficiency. For example, we use advanced processes to improve energy conversion and use biomimetic heat dissipation technology to reduce power consumption.
Finally, our 5G site design. Huawei's 5G Simplified Solution, a modular design for full-outdoor base stations, requires no air conditioning. This has greatly reduced energy consumption.
Combining our strengths in software and hardware, we have managed to reduce per-site power consumption to 20% less than the industry average. Our 5G equipment is more energy efficient. With the right solutions, Huawei's 5G is green. And “Green” keeps driving Huawei innovation.
The human exposure guidelines based on a large number of scientific studies developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, together with the compliance standards ensuring that exposure from antennas and mobile devices remains below these limits, are the foundation of such an approach.
EU recommendations are in line with these limits, and Huawei fully supports and applies these guidelines and standards.
Considering the persistent myths about cell tower and phone radiation and the debate around the new 5G standard, let’s take a closer look at the concrete implications:
• The design of modern 5G antennas actually reduces the average exposure of individuals in a given area.
• The radiation of a 5G base station radiation is less than 1/8000 of the sunlight radiation.
• Most frequencies currently assigned to 5G occupy existing low frequency and Wi-Fi bands, involving no new risks, while higher frequencies also mean lower penetration in the body, and are associated with lower emitted power. Let me add that the use of high frequency bands will not start immediately, leaving more time for additional research.
We strongly support an open-ended research effort, aiming to compile all necessary scientific evidence and data to obtain the most accurate picture of radiation impact as the technology progresses. There has been extensive research in this field in the past, and it has so far provided no evidence that would justify delaying 5G deployment on health grounds – on the contrary.
In 5G era, there are many vital sustainability concerns to address. To put it simply: with digital help, more can be done with less. Technology can help Europe save resources to become greener, smarter and wealthier.
To achieve this, we need to pull in the same direction. Historically, this is what has made Europe strong. It is also the foundation of the 5G success story.
Huawei is the global leader in 5G, with almost 50 contracts for 5G deployment signed, and it has made a key contribution to the research and development effort at the heart of the new standard. But let’s not forget that our 5G offering is to a large extent a European product, resulting from technologies that have been developed together with European researchers and scientists.
To achieve Green 5G for a greener, smarter Europe, we need to renew this partnership as we move from development to deployment. Making green 5G a European success story will require the political will to recognise ‘green’, ‘digital’ and the link between the two as top priorities for Europe in the coming months and years, and a strong commitment from businesses like ours to help implement this effort.
To end, I would like to call on decision-makers not to succumb to fear. As Theodore Roosevelt said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Let’s make Green 5G happen in our society.
Thank you very much!
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