Deutsche Telekom launches energy saving AI RAN trial 


German operator Deutsche Telecom has launched a trial to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into its radio access network (RAN) to improve its efficiency, save energy, and reduce operating costs

At this year’s FutureNet World 2024, the company’s Vice President of Technology Strategy, Ahmed Hafez, explained that the company is testing the use of AI in the RAN that can automatically switch off parts of the network during quiet periods (often at night) to increase the network’s energy efficiency. 

According to stats from mobile equipment vendor Ericsson, dynamic “sleep mode” solutions can save operators up to 10–12% of total energy expenditure. Ericsson claims that energy bills can account for 5–7% of total operating expenditure, a huge expense that will only increase as network capacity rises. 

“Now, with AI, you can actually tap into the maximum you can do without impacting user experience, and that’s really a very efficient thing. I mean, not only for saving money, but also for the environment,” said Hafez at FutureNet World. 

Incorporating AI into the RAN is becoming an increasingly exciting field for mobile operators across the globe. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, a new initiative called the AI-RAN Alliance was formed to enhance the integration of AI into the RAN. The founding members, which include AWS, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, and T-Mobile (in which Deutsche Telekom is the largest shareholder), will focus their research in three main areas: 

AI for RAN – using AI to improve spectrum efficiency on the network;
AI and RAN – using AI to better utilise RAN infrastructure to generate new revenue streams;
AI on RAN – deploying AI on the network edge to increase efficiency and bring new services to mobile users. 

Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer at the GSMA praised the “AI-RAN Alliance’s shared ambitions to create new, open platforms that can help democratize the use of artificial intelligence in mobile industry.” 

“AI has the potential to deliver huge societal benefits and accelerate technology innovation. However, it’s critical it’s democratized, so all parts of the connectivity industry and their customers, wherever they are in the world, can benefit,” he continued. 

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