Mobile World Live: Navigating the edge for sustainable futures

There are mechanisms for energy saving at the edge, including the reduction of backhaul energy and data center processing. 

Pradeep Chakraborty
New Update

Sustainable futures: navigating the edge

Mobile World Live organized a conference around sustainable futures: navigating the edge.


We need to explore the energy-saving considerations made possible by positioning servers closer to end-users through edge computing. There is rise in mobile data traffic and the impact on both edge and cloud compute, and how can energy use should be factored into the decision-making process. The conference looked at the potential for monetizing 5G by selling into enterprise verticals, and the industries that offer the best potential for 5G revenue growth. Finally, there are mechanisms for energy saving at the edge, including the reduction of backhaul energy and data center processing. 

The presenters were: Francisco Martín Pignatelli, Head of OpenRAN, Vodafone, Manish Singh, CTO, Telecom Systems Business, Dell Technologies, Cristina Rodriguez, VP Network and Edge Solutions Group, and GM, Wireless Access Network, Intel, and Tim Hatt, Head of Research & Consulting, GSMA Intelligence.

Manish Singh said that we need to apply AI/ML on the data. We need to make compute platform even more energy efficient. Francisco Martín Pignatelli stated that we are now witnessing synergies among components. We also need to capture all the data. We need to improve things like getting even more out of the software. We are working on making hardware and software even more efficient. We need to see how that will evolve. 


Cristina Rodriguez said there have been many technological advancements over the years. We need to look at hardware, and edge computing. AI can enhance imaging, healthcare, transportation, and even automation in the RAN.

Manish Singh added that we are seeing adoption across industry verticals. Eg., in retail, manufacturing, etc. We are improving the productivity side. We have not yet seen enough adoption in agriculture, and even food production. We are seeing adoption growing of edge computing. 

Tim Hatt added that edge computing is being deployed to coordinate trucks and ships. That is improving productivity by about 25 percent. Pignatelli alluded to the fact that we are getting insights about how data is being made use of. He said energy effiency is also key. Accelerating everything in the plant is a must. 


Rodriguez noted we have edge compute that can process data. It saves energy right there. Decisions can also be made right there. Singh said we need a horizontal cloud. We need even more of energy efficiency.

Assessing for Open RAN

How would you assess the mobile network for Open RAN? Pignatelli said it was more of an intellectual exercise some years ago. Discussions then moved to trials. Now, it has broadly all suppliers in the radio ecosystem endorsing open RAN. We have a large tender with 170,000 sites, and Open RAN is a big part. Rodriguez added open network will need scalability. We are seeing major transformation in the industry. Vodafone is a leader in this journey. Verizon is also growing many sites. AT&T has made some announcements.

Singh noted that they have been part of the Open RAN from its early days. AT&T, Verizon, etc., are playing major roles. Many others are starting their journeys on Open RAN. This is going to open up the telecom industry for even more innovation. We are also showcasing some things at MWC24.


According to Pignatelli, there is still some geopolitics involved. Some operators are still going with multi-vendor approaches. However, there has not been any fragmentation. We can also learn from the past. Hatt added that this is ushering in more competition among the operators. As we move forward to SDNs, we are going to see more innovation in APIs. We are currently scratching the surface. We will be moving on with Open RAN architecture.

Improving sustainability

What can we as an industry to improve sustainability? Rodriguez said we need to allow more innovation in software. We can bring sustainability to the arena. We cannot stop at layer 1 of the network. We can also add more intelligence to the networks. We also need cloud-native environment. We probably need a general-purpose processor for generating capacity. We also need to have capability with AI built-in acceleration. We are going to make more announcements this year. Last year, we had done a demo with Vodafone. We had demonstrated 20% power reduction. We need to have even more industry collaborations.

Singh said we also need to have more cloudification and automation of the infrastructure. We are in the stage of getting the basic combination right. The radio access network can also have AI controls. They can be also optimized, depending on the traffic load. That can take lot of energy out of the network. New solutions are now starting to emerge. Pignatelli noted that we need to adapt further. Radios are already more than perfect. 

How do you think AI can help with telecom sustainability efforts? Singh said that we can get all the traffic data at all times of the day. AI can definitely help with optimizing the radio. There is also work on innovation going on everywhere.

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