Green Communication Technologies

Our Green Communications Technology research explores the challenges related to the efficient energy utilisation by future communication networks.

The main research topics in this domain include:

  • network architectures
  • radio resource management
  • interference management
  • energy consumption models and metrics

The main lines of investigation currently being explored are:

  • Energy efficient radio resource management (RRM)
  • Base station sleep modes of operation
  • Game theory – coordinated interference management

Why this research is important

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector has experienced a prodigious growth in the number of mobile subscriptions over the last decade. Recent studies have shown that the number of global mobile subscriptions has increased exponentially from 500 million subscriptions in 2000 to 5 billion subscriptions in 2012. Furthermore, the total number of mobile subscriptions is expected to grow to about 6 billion in 2014 and tend to reach global penetration of 100 percent after 2020.

The exponential growth in the number of subscriptions has resulted in the volume of transmitted data increasing by approximately a factor of 10 every five years. In order to support the skyrocketing traffic volumes, data transmission rates have been increasing at approximately the same pace facilitated in part by the fact that the processing power and storage capabilities of mobile devices have doubled approximately every 18 months i.e. Moore’s Law.

However, the increasing volume of transmitted data is sustained at the expense of a significant carbon footprint by the mobile communications industry. 3 percent of the world-wide energy is consumed by the ICT infrastructure accounting for 2 percent of the global CO2 emissions, which is comparable to the world-wide CO2 emissions by aviation or one quarter of the global CO2 emissions by cars, resulting in a global CO2 equivalent (CO2~eq) emission of 1.3 percent.

It is further estimated that mobile networks accounted for 0.2 and 0.4 percent of the global CO2~eq emissions in 2007 and 2010, respectively and predictions indicate that the footprint of mobile communications might triple by 2020 reaching more than one third of the present annual emissions of the entire United Kingdom.

Besides being environmentally benign, there is a strong economic incentive to reduce the energy consumption of mobile communication networks. The continuously rising energy consumption together with steadily increasing energy costs make it imperative to manage the energy bill if mobile operators are remain competitive. From an operator’s perspective, reducing the energy consumption is critical to lowering the operating expenditure (OPEX), and translates directly to an attractive bottom line.