The Long Road to Sobriety: best paper award at the ICT4S conference

The paper from Arsalan Ahmed and Marceau Coupechoux The Long Road to Sobriety: Estimating the Operational Power Consumption of Cellular Base Stations in France, receives the Best Paper Award at the ICT4S conference (Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainability) in June 2023, Rennes.

Arsalan Ahmed was a Master’s student at the University of Lorraine and came to do his internship at Télécom Paris on a project-independent financing scheme.

As the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector represents 1.8% to 3.9% of the global Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, it is of upmost importance to know how much energy is spent annually in mobile networks and how this consumption is evolving. It is quite likely that the huge energy efficiency gains achieved by technology evolution have at least been compensated by the surge in data traffic. Therefore, in this paper, we estimate the operational power consumption of cellular Base Stations (BSs) deployed in France from 2015 to 2022. However, unfortunately, the lack of openly available data hinders the estimation process. In order to work around this issue, we rely on a public dataset on radio electric installations, on widely adopted power consumption models and on a set of assumptions backed by the scientific literature. We demonstrate that, over the considered period, the numbers of BSs and transceivers have grown at a sustained Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.55% and 18.27%, respectively. Within the same period, the average BS power consumption has increased at a CAGR of 9.89% while the total operational power consumption of BSs has grown at a CAGR of 18.18%. We further show that the introduction of 5G has accelerated this trend despite the recent decommissioning of 2G and 3G transceivers. These alarming figures advocate for proactive digital sobriety policies.

The conférence ICT4S (Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainability) conference took place in Rennes, France, 5-10 June,2023. The international ICT4S conferences bring together leading researchers in ICT for Sustainability with government and industry representatives, including decision-makers with an interest in using ICT for sustainability, researchers focusing on ICT effects on sustainability and developers of sustainable ICT systems or applications.

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