Why mmWave technology is inherently sustainable

In this blog, Blu Wireless’ Chief Operating Officer David Purle explores how the growth in video traffic is placing stress on mobile networks, resulting in rapidly growing energy consumption. The inherently sustainable mmWave technology can assist different industries in addressing power consumption and in working towards their sustainability goals.

The rapid growth in video viewing is ramping up energy demand across the industry, most notably in end-user video devices and Wi-Fi access points, but also in the supporting telecoms networks for streaming and in data centres. The demand for energy is intense and different industries will need to amend their practices to increase sustainability and reduce the energy consumption due to increased video viewing.

A recent report by Rethink Research* explores the vigorous growth of video traffic inside both fixed-line and wireless networks. It states that around 80% of total web traffic nowadays is video, and that the immense popularity of the short-form format has placed stress on mobile networks. Research shows that the increasing production and consumption of video on smartphones is putting a strain on mobile network operators.

The report’s key forecast is that the global energy use of video distribution and consumption will reach 3,398 TWh by 2027. Subscription television networks will be the largest drain on energy in 2027 at 1,575 TWh, followed by video devices at 1,165 TWh. The necessary supporting infrastructure (data centres, broadband and mobile networks) is projected to consume a whopping 820 TWh by 2027.

Why action is needed

Given the heightened focus on sustainability and rising energy costs worldwide, it is crucial to address the management of video use and its associated power demands. While the Rethink Research report estimates that carbon emissions from video consumption and distribution will decrease to 1.15 billion TCO2 in 2027 (due to improved carbon efficiency of electricity) more efforts are needed to tackle energy consumption.

This is where mmWave technology can step in as it is inherently low power, making it a more sustainable choice compared to 5G NR. Blu Wireless mmWave technology is proven and ready to make an immediate reduction in power consumption across a range of scenarios.

Blu Wireless’ PhantomBlu product, for example, targets around 70 Watts of consumption for full 360-degree coverage, which is ten times lower than that of a 5G NR installation. As we comply with IEEE standards we can operate as a standalone technology with just an access point and a station, providing a mmWave connection between the two. This technology doesn’t require any centralised computer function at the core of a network, as it creates ad hoc links which only need a node at each end. The total energy footprint of mmWave networks is much lower than that of competitive technology and, crucially, they consume less power.

How mmWave technology is driving sustainable practices in a number of industries

mmWave technology radiates energy in a tightly focused beam and avoids distributing it in an omni pattern when only two or three points need to be connected.

For Blu Wireless customer Avanti West Coast, we deploy our technology on trackside posts in remote locations where the power consumption footprint of each node is vitally important. As our technology can reduce power demands by a factor of ten, it makes a huge difference to the rail company as it eliminates the need to send electricity down miles of trackside power cables and enables the use of sustainable solar or wind power instead.

We also bring real reductions in power consumption to the defence industry. Modern military vehicles, equipped with multiple radios, a network, and a computer, experience reduced demands on the engine by using the Blu Wireless mmWave technology. This enables them to operate for longer periods of time while reducing energy consumption. The benefits extend to the field as well, with lower power demands upon communications devices in a backpack allowing for extended operation.

In the motorsport arena, weight is of critical importance as lighter vehicles travel faster. Weight is a vital consideration in the construction of a racing car as every extra gramme can make a difference. The application of mmWave technology reduces the demand for power and therefore any onboard energy source can be of a lighter design.

The smaller energy consumption of our technology is set to become ever more important in the future as the world transitions to renewable energy. mmWave requires fewer components compared to traditional networks which translates to lower demand for valuable raw materials. It is evident that the implementation of mmWave technology has great potential to help a variety of industries such as automotive, high-speed transport and defence reduce power demand, lower their consumption of scarce resources and increase their sustainable practices.

Learn more about mmWave technology and why it’s the future of wireless here.