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2013: Mobile Network Energy OPEX to Rise Dramatically to $22B

Over the next few years the growing cost of bulk diesel fuel, coupled with wholesale electricity price increases, are likely to offset significant gains in cellular base station power efficiency. This will result in a collective network OPEX of $22 billion in 2013, according to a new study from ABI Research. Starting in 2012, however, the benefits of power consumption and efficiency advancements should start to rein in the spiraling operating expenditures.

Infrastructure vendors are focusing intently on reducing power consumption in their products through hardware integration, the use of remote radio heads, and software-based solutions that provide dynamic network dimensioning. These measures seem likely to reduce the average base station power consumption level by 43% between 2007 and 2013, a development that is eagerly awaited by the carrier community.

ABI Research vice president Stuart Carlaw says, “Although reducing power consumption provides good ecological credentials for carriers and vendors alike, the real driver for improving power consumption is financial. It is imperative that carriers do everything possible to negate rising energy costs in an environment where network traffic and ARPUs are diverging.”

There are significant opportunities to integrate traditional power sources with fast-improving renewable energy sources. Solar power remains the front-runner but hybrid solutions including wind and increased use of battery power will become ever more viable. Other solutions such as fuel cells and compressed air are also on the long-term radar.

Carlaw also notes that environmental consumerism could be a powerful force in this area as it has been in other markets: “It is only a matter of time before carriers begin to market services under the green banner.”

A new ABI Research study,Mobile Networks Go Green examines the mechanisms being put into place by carriers and infrastructure vendors to reduce power consumption, ranging from network optimization to hardware integration, power amplifier efficiency, and software-based dynamic asset dimensioning. It also considers the opportunity to integrate renewable energy sources into the primary power sources for cell sites, focusing on solar, wind, and hybrid solutions combining renewable cells, grid-based electricity, diesel generation and battery banks. [ABI Research]

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