New technologies could push overall consumption in communications networks down by 98 percent.
Mobile access networks could be made more than 10,000 times more efficient, according to research from GreenTouch.
The proposals, which also include improvements in core and fixed networks, could apparently reduce net energy consumption for communications networks by 98 percent from 2010 to 2020 despite significant traffic growth.
The energy savings would be equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 5.8 million cars.
New technologies included Beyond Cellular Green Generation, an architecture using small cells with intelligent sleep modes, allowing the separation of signalling and data functions to improve efficiency, while the Large-Scale Antenna System would replace cellular macro base stations with smaller, low-powered antennae.
Distributed Energy-Efficient Clouds would use analytics to minimise the power consumption of content distribution networks, Green Transmission Technologies would focus on finding the optimal trade-off between spectral and energy efficiency and Cascaded Bit Interleaving Passive Optical Networks would allow nodes to only process relevant traffic.
GreenTouch also announced two tools to allow people to experiment with creating more efficient networks. GWATT is an interactive web application providing a view into the GreenTouch portfolio, while the Flexible Power Model provides power consumption values for different hardware and configurations.
The global consortium, spearheaded by Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs, was formed in 2010 to determine how to sustainably and economically support the growth of communications networks. Originally, the goal had been a thousand-fold efficiency increase.
"It’s amazing how fast the time has flown by since the start of the GreenTouch project, but what’s most impressive are the results our international team of scientists, academics, and industry leaders have achieved, in just five short years, to chart a path to greener networks," stated Thierry Van Landegem, chairman, GreenTouch.
He added: "With the public release of tools and technologies that industry and academia can use now to design and deploy more energy-efficient communications networks today and in the future. Our work will not only enable a more productive and sustainable future, but will also help many more people to connect with one another."