5G base stations consume too much electricity, so they began to turn off in China at night

When talking about 5G networks, they often talk about huge increases in data transfer rates, but many people do not realize that much more electricity is spent on the infrastructure of the next generation networks.


In early August, a division of China Unicom announced that it would put some of its ZTE 5G base stations into hibernation operation from 9:00 pm to 9:00 am to reduce energy costs in Luoyang.

According to the official documentation of the telecommunications equipment manufacturer Huawei, 5G base stations consume three and a half times more energy than 4G infrastructure. Part of the problem is that the new generation of mobile communications requires a denser arrangement of base stations.

With China rapidly deploying new 5G base stations, which reached 410,000 nationwide in June, some cities are putting them into sleep mode. This will save energy while there are relatively few new generation network users.

One of the three largest state-owned telecommunications companies in the country, Unicom, assured users that this would not affect their service in any way. “Turning off base stations is not a manual shutdown, but an automatic adjustment performed at a certain time, which does not affect consumers and is beneficial to investors“Said the CEO of China Unicom, Wang Xiaochu.

His explanation followed because the activation of hibernation (energy saving mode) in 5G stations caused users to ask a reasonable question: “Is it worth paying for a 5G subscription if base stations are unavailable during certain hours?“. Unicom claims this is not a problem, as the hibernation schedules change as needed.

Li Fuchang, deputy director of the wireless research department at China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute, said the AAU hibernation function cuts power when the base station is in standby mode. This happens when there are no connected users on the 5G network.

By adjusting the hibernation mode to match real-time data, operators can significantly reduce energy and maintenance costs, Li told Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

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