Sustainability as an Integral Part of 6G System Architecture Design

The annual Brooklyn Summit is one of the most distinguished gatherings that has charted the technical future of the wireless industry since its inaugural event in 2014. It has been a harbinger for what the future holds for communication technologies, applications and services for consumers, enterprises and industry. In 2022, a virtual one day summit was held last month on the theme “Path Towards a Sustainable 6G World”. A face to face event is planned for October 24-27, 2022.

At the virtual summit in April, Balazs Bertenyi, Principle Standardization Architect at Nokia, provided a talk looking at RAN viewpoint on Sustainability. Balazs has been active in 3GPP standards for a very long time, not just as a delegate but also as a chairman of various 3GPP groups, most recently as a Chair of 3GPP RAN.

5G Technology World has a comprehensive summary of the event here. Quoting from the article:

Nokia Principle Standardization Architect Balazs Bertenyi looked at carbon emissions and energy use in telecom networks. While he said that the ICT sector produces about 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, some 80% of the energy producing those emissions is wasted, mostly in transmission losses and heat.

As time goes on, 5G and 6G will introduce new connected devices beyond smartphones. That will increase the percentage of energy consumed by user devices. It’s currently at 47%, according to Bertenyi. Figure 2 shows the complete breakdown. “Some 93% of a mobile network’s carbon footprint comes from actual use, as opposed to manufacturing,” said Bertenyi “that’s dominated by base stations. There’s lots of room for improvement.”

What does sustainability mean in 6G? Symmetrical services based on AR/VR and the metaverse will be big in 6G, according to Bertenyi. We’ll have to capture some of the energy, such as heat, and reuse it.

From an environmental perspective, the discussions covered more than just carbon emissions. The discussion looked at how the entire wireless and network supply chains treat sustainability. Sustainability runs from the mining operations that extract raw materials to the disposal and recycling of obsolete electronics, which is more than just mobile phones.

The video of his talk is embedded below.

All talks from 2022 Brooklyn 6G Summit is available on IEEE TV here.

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