5G adoption drives spending on energy: MTN Consulting

5G adoption is driving spending on utilities (electricity, fuel, and water) higher, as several early adopters of 5G business saw increases in utilities spend (as a percent of Opex ex-D&A) in 2020, according to MTN Consulting.
5G adoption and energy costOperators such as China Mobile, Ooredoo, Swisscom, Telecom Italia, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus, will need to seek out energy efficient equipment, software, and network architectures as 5G penetration grows.

Based on a sample set of 17 telcos which report the data, utilities as a percent of Opex (ex-D&A) was 5.2 percent in 2020 as compared with roughly 4.8-4.9 percent in each of the previous 4 years, and 5.0 percent in 2015.

The above chart shows utilities as a percent of Opex (ex-D&A) for 2018-20, for some of the key early 5G adopters in our database.

All of the companies in the chart above began their 5G deployment by mid-2019, at latest. For every one of them except China Unicom, utilities spend either rises or stays flat in 2020, as a percent of Opex.

A typical 5G base station consumes up to twice or more the power of a 4G base station, the report said. The disparity can grow at higher frequencies, due to a need for more antennas and a denser layer of small cells. Edge compute facilities needed to support local processing and new Internet of things (IoT) services add to overall network power usage.