How macro, small cell radio base stations can deliver energy savings of up to 50%


Bell Labs, the industrial research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, has discovered that today’s ultra-broadband mobile networks can make significant energy savings and performance gains by deploying a mix of macro and small cell radio base stations.

The discovery is the result of a research project – IntelliSpektrum – which brought together in collaboration, Bell Labs, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics, the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute and Intel Mobile Communications GmbH.

The project aimed to demonstrate how, even as mobile data traffic rises, and the number of devices connecting to a network increases, base stations can be dynamically adapted to better manage traffic loads and save energy without any adverse affects to end-user service quality. The research report findings included:
◦Significant energy savings are possible in ‘heterogeneous’ (HetNet) mobile networks that comprise a mix of radio base stations, including Macro, Metro, Pico and Femto.
◦Energy savings of more than 50% were seen in mobile networks with a high number of small cells compared to those comprised only of macro base stations. IntelliSpektrum has since transferred these results into the GreenMeter study of the GreenTouch™ initiative. This improved simulation approach will be used and distributed in GreenTouch publications.
◦HetNets are able to make more efficient use of infrastructure because they can better adapt to high- and low-load traffic situations.
◦While the number of radio base stations in close proximity within today’s ultra-broadband networks can create a risk of Inter-cell interference (ICI) and degrade service quality, when interference coordination is employed it not only reduces the risk of ICI but also shows gains in energy and performance – throughput gains of 10% in downlink (when the base station connects to the mobile device) and more than 50% in uplink (when the mobile device connects to the base station) were seen.

Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs & CTO Alcatel-Lucent said: “The IntelliSpektrum research project is a perfect example of how Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Labs are collaborating with other industry leaders to innovate. We are committed to research and development of energy-efficient products and technologies that offer improved network performance. Findings from the project underscore the critical importance of small cells and prove that that by deploying a mix of base station radios operators will see better energy efficiency and increased network performance – thereby improving their customers’ experience and increasing efficiency.”

Dr. Vincenzo Carrubba, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics said: “Our research is focused on making important contributions to fields that include energy, communication and mobility. We intend to use the research findings to deliver improvements in communications that make life a little easier for many people.”

Dr. Thomas Haustein, Head Wireless Networks at the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute said: ”Our scientific discoveries help us deliver game-changing communications solutions. This research allowed us to show the possibilities of HetNets in terms of optimizing signal processing and wireless networks overall.”

Stefan Wolff, vice president of the Platform Engineering Group at Intel said: “Intel’s XMM™ product line delivers powerful platforms for mobile modems, smartphones, tablets and 2 in 1 convertible computers with a small PCB footprint and very low power consumption. In order to deliver an excellent user experience, future wireless networks will need more intelligent devices. This project provides some new key features in order to make that happen. This project adds to our ongoing efforts to increase power efficiency and user experience of our wireless communication SoCs.”

The IntelliSpektrum research project was funded through the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. The ministry´s “IT2Green” program is targeted to develop technology to enable intelligent spectrum management and deliver energy-efficient and service-optimized access to flexible, hierarchical mobile networks. The project concluded officially in September 2014 when the results were shared during a public workshop.

TelecomDrive Bureau covers the latest developments happening in the space of communications, devices and innovations in targeted geographies of India, SAARC, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions.TelecomDrive Bureau is headed by Zia Askari. He can be reached at