by Ulrich Barth, Patty Wong, Didier Bourse
As a leader in telecommunications, Alcatel-Lucent recognizes the important role our industry must play in the global effort to address environmental issues such as climate change. This article highlights some of the corporation’s major research and development initiatives.
Alcatel-Lucent products are thoroughly evaluated for energy efficiency to ensure they support service providers’ efforts to reduce the carbon emissions of new and existing networks. As part of its efforts to create exceptional value for its customers, Alcatel-Lucent committed itself to improving the energy efficiency of key products by at least 20% by the end of 2010 compared with 2008. In addition, Bell Labs scientists and engineers are creating innovative solutions and services that provide significant environmental benefits in a variety of business sectors, including smart metering, smart buildings, smart transport and tele-working.
Alcatel-Lucent uses an end-to-end approach to energy efficiency in access, transport and core networks. For example, solutions for eco-sustainable wireless networks address all hardware, software, site and subsystem levels. As a result of this holistic strategy, customers benefit from tangible business and environmental benefits, including dramatically reducing their electricity bills, minimizing their carbon footprint, developing new revenue-generating opportunities through the availability of affordable alternative energy, and potentially expanding their business opportunities with carbon-reducing communication services.
In February 2009, Alcatel-Lucent announced the Dynamic Power Save feature on its GSM/EDGE mobile networking portfolio. This new feature reduces power consumption when traffic drops, with real-time reactivity that guarantees no impact on service quality. This reduces average power consumption by 25-30% and can be installed on all of the 500,000 Alcatel-Lucent base stations deployed since 1999, thus protecting mobile operators’ investments and making existing networks more energy efficient.
Alcatel-Lucent pioneered the combining of different types of wireless base stations to help customers save energy. The arrays of small coverage area (pico) base stations, strategically combined with a few large coverage area (macro) base stations in mixed deployments can be significantly more energy efficient than networks based on a single technology. Researchers have determined that the total network energy consumption can be reduced by up to 60% in urban areas for high data-rate user demand based on today's technology. Benefits could be as high as a 70% reduction in energy consumption as both technologies mature and the demand for high data rates increases.
In July 2009, Alcatel-Lucent introduced the industry’s first 100 Gigabit Ethernet service routing interface for the edge, to help service providers around the world meet massive bandwidth demands. Service providers must minimize space and power requirements if they are to contain costs and maintain an environmentally friendly operation. Alcatel-Lucent’s FP2 silicon innovations and improvements in thermal efficiency reduce power consumption to levels approaching four watts per gigabit with the new 100 Gigabit Ethernet interface modules, a significant improvement compared to the 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigabit alternatives widely deployed today.
With 300 solar-powered wireless sites, Alcatel-Lucent has established an industry-leading Alternative Energy Programme. The programme’s goal is to develop the world’s first integrated, mass-produced, alternatively powered wireless base stations, making it possible for operators to extend the reach of their wireless services to access a huge population of potential new subscribers for its customers – the more than one billion people living in areas not served by an electrical grid. Intended for worldwide deployment, these hybrid stations powered by wind, solar and bio-fuel cells will be available as turnkey offerings, with faster delivery times and a higher return on investment than can be achieved with the fragmented, site-by-site solutions currently available on the market. The programme brings together the benefits of Alcatel-Lucent’s experience in integration and implementation, the power efficiency of its base stations and its professional services. The operational launch of the world’s first alternative energy laboratory and pilot site, located on the Bell Labs research site in Villarceaux, France, was announced in June 2009.
Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs is also researching new ways to improve thermal management performance while reducing the energy required to cool the equipment. These include thermal interface materials to conduct heat, vapour chambers to spread heat and heat sinks to dissipate heat into the air stream.
Through its participation in the European research cooperation framework, Alcatel-Lucent is a key partner in the EC FP7 ADDRESS Integrating Project (IP). This project is working on a technical and economic solution to ‘active demand’, which means enabling consumers to proactively interact with the power system market, by means of real time interaction based on price and volume signals and by promoting the exploitation of sources of renewable energy and the development of a distributed generation model.
Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs is currently coordinating the preparation of the major EC FP7 EARTH IP, (EARTH: Energy Aware Radio and neTwork tecHnologies) addressing ‘Green Networking’. The target of the project is to cut the energy use of mobile cellular networks by a factor of at least two. The project will investigate the energy efficiency limit that is theoretically and practically achievable whilst providing high capacity and uncompromised quality of service. The project is primarily focused on the future 3GPP mobile cellular systems LTE and LTE-A (Long Term Evolution-Advanced), where the potential impact on standardization is envisaged, but will also consider currently deployed 3GPP technologies (UMTS/HSPA) for immediate impact. The project will mobilize a consortium of major stakeholders to develop a new generation of energy-efficient products, components, deployment strategies and energy-aware network management solutions.
The tangible results of the research project will include (i) energy-efficient deployment strategies, (ii) energy-efficient network architectures, (iii) new network management mechanisms that adapt to varying loads, (iv) innovative component designs with energy-efficient adaptive operating points, and (v) new radio and network resource management protocols for multi-cell cooperative networking. The new techniques will be validated using sophisticated simulation tools and in a mobile network test plant. The project will provide valuable and timely contributions to standardization and regulations processes.
Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, France
Tel: +33 1 3077 6087