Nap time: EE rolls out energy-saving ‘cell sleep’ tech to mobile network


The nationwide rollout is expected to deliver energy savings of up to 4.5m KWh per year across the entire network

This week, EE has announced that it has rolled out its new dynamic ‘cell sleep’ technology across its 4G mobil network, potentially greatly reducing its power consumption.

The technology functions by putting certain 4G LTE carriers into a less functional low-power mod (i.e., ‘cell sleep’) at times when this capacity is not likely to be needed. These periods of cell sleep are predetermined by using machine learning to analyse the site’s usage and identify periods of lower demand.

If demand on a site increases unexpectantly during a scheduled sleep period, the site can be automatically brought back to full power in a matter of seconds.

In addition to this more intermittent cell sleep, sites are also equipped with an even more extreme low-power mode, ‘deep sleep’, which is useful for period of extremely low demand, like the middle of the night.

Taken altogether, this ‘cell sleep’ technology can deliver energy savings of up to 2 KWh per site per day, equating to 4.5m KWh per year across the entire network.

“There is huge potential for energy savings across our networks by dynamically matching power consumption against network usage,” said Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer at BT. “The optimisation and roll-out of cell sleep technology to over 19,500 sites across the UK is a significant milestone in achieving this, and an important development in countering the massive growth in data consumption we’re seeing across our networks.”

Dynamically altering a mobile site’s power consumption based on user demand is becoming increasingly popular among the mobile operator community, something that has only been accelerated by the rapid improvement of AI and machine learning in recent years. Ericsson, for example, has been particularly vocal about the potential benefits of this type of technology, showing off their own sleep mode technology with Deutsche Telekom earlier this year.

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