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Vodafone UK 5G Trial Cuts Energy Use and Refarms 900MHz to 4G

Thursday, Sep 2nd, 2021 (11:21 am) - Score 3,592
Ericsson AIR3227

Vodafone UK has teamed up with network supplier Ericsson to conduct a new trial in Central London, which demonstrated an impressive 43% reduction in the energy consumption of their 5G mobile broadband network (reaching up to 55% at off-peak times). The operator has also re-farmed some of their 900MHz band to boost 4G.

The kit being tested was Ericsson’s latest antenna-integrated radio solution (AIR 3227), which during the trial was deployed on the roof of Vodafone’s Speechmark office, in Southwark, Central London. Comparing the performance of the equipment directly to the previous generation of technology, Vodafone’s controlled trial saw energy consumption decrease by a daily average of 43%, and as much as 55% at off-peak times.

Deployment of the new equipment will thus help reduce the operator’s forecasted energy consumption of its future 5G network. Vodafone now intends to deploy 1,500 of the new units by April 2022, enabling a more environmentally responsible 5G deployment strategy.

The new radio kit is 51% lighter than the previous generation and its more compact design and improved energy management features should also help to minimise overall site footprint, making the 5G rollout and 4G upgrades both quicker and easier (that also means cost savings and every operator likes those).

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer of Vodafone UK, said:

“Our strategy is simple; turn off anything we don’t need, modernise our network where possible, and use the most energy efficient options available without compromising the service we deliver to our customers. The success of this trial allows us to explore new ways we can more effectively manage the energy consumption of our network with our partner Ericsson. There is no silver bullet for managing network energy consumption – it is about putting sustainability at the heart of every decision and adding up all the small gains to make a material difference.”

In addition to this, Vodafone is also undertaking a project to make the best and most efficient use of spectrum and energy resources. As a result, some 10MHz of frequency from the 900MHz spectrum band, which previously provided 3G services, has now been re-farmed to support 4G. In the future, this spectrum can also be transitioned to support 5G using only a software upgrade.

At present they’ve only deployed this change across multiple sites in London, but hundreds more will follow. The project to restructure and reallocate spectrum in the 900MHz band will double low band capacity for customers, improving the 4G experience and reliability of the network. The reallocated 4G spectrum will also be complemented by deployment of Massive MIMO antenna, further enhancing mobile broadband speeds.

Additional capacity has been added to ensure a reliable and consistent 4G experience. Over the last 12 months, Vodafone saw 4G traffic on its network grow by more than 40% year-on-year, a trend which is expected to continue for the coming years. By comparison, 3G data usage has declined rapidly, from more than 30% of total traffic in 2016 to less than 4% today.

However, we note that a dedicated block of the 900MHz band will be retained, at least for now, to support older 2G and 3G services.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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6 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ig Og says:

    Ah re-farming, Vodafone outstanding in in their own field.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      I imagine that was a lot funnier in your head.

  2. Avatar photo Jake says:

    “At present they’ve only deployed this change across multiple sites in London”

    Maybe the press release states that, but if you look at CellMapper you will see many sites in Liverpool (Huawei), Manchester (Huawei), Birmingham (Huawei), Southampton (Ericsson) and Portsmouth (Ericsson) have 10MHz L09.

    In addition, vendor swapped sites from Huawei to Ericsson in Cardiff, Bristol and Newport also have L09

  3. Avatar photo Gregowski says:

    Already Connected to VF Band 8 in Southampton along with 20, 7 and 1 😀

  4. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Hurry up and just roll it out..

  5. Avatar photo Mark says:

    It’s all becoming quite a mismatch, still 2G only masts, backhaul issues etc,so some areas never saw 3G will they ever see 4G? You would of thought by 2021 there wouldn’t be this problem.

Comments are closed

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