You may recall the launch of Green Touch a year ago – it was set up by a communications industry consortium with the aim of dramatically reducing the energy used in communications networks. Today’s networks are optimised for performance, so a different design and architecture is needed to maximise energy efficiency and that’s what the consortium is addressing
The target of Green Touch is to reduce communications energy consumption per user by a factor of 1000 from 2010 levels by 2015. It plans to define the architecture, specifications and roadmap — and demonstrate key components — needed to achieve the target.
Anyway, in London this morning Green Touch demonstrated a technology that will help it reach that target. It’s an antenna system that offers the potential for significant wireless transmission energy savings. The Large-Scale Antenna System proof of concept demonstrated that the radiated power consumption of a mobile mast could be significantly reduced as the number of antenna elements is increased. An antenna array comprising 100 elements would transmit only one percent of the energy transmitted by a single antenna for the same quality of service.
Instead of broadcasting signals throughout the entire coverage area, as other antenna systems typically do, the Large-Scale Antenna System ‘utilises knowledge of the propagation channels to transmit concentrated beams of information selectively to many users at once. The greater the number of antenna elements deployed, the higher the concentration of the beams and, therefore, the lower the power that any antenna needs to send a given amount of information’.
At the same time, Green Touch gave a series of presentations of significant milestones it has reached since its launch, highlighting more than two dozen research projects in progress or under consideration. The projects are drawn from the consortium’s key areas of technology focus – wireline access; core switching and routing; mobile communications; core optical networking and transmission; and services, applications, and energy trends. The projects will be introduced in greater detail in the coming months.
Well it does seem that Green Touch is gathering speed. It’s difficult to believe that it can really reduce communications energy consumption per user by a factor of 1000 by 2015, but there is clearly a great reduction in power use possible and Green Touch seems to be going for it. Communications is the fastest growing carbon emitter in the ICT industry, so there’s a lot to play for.