NGMN sets out plan to gain better energy consumption in virtualised networks

The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) has published a report offering key recommendations to the industry regarding the measurement of energy consumption in the virtualised radio access networks (RANs), aiming to advance the capacity to deploy disaggregated, virtualised and cloud-native architectures, while effectively managing energy consumption and environmental impact.

Founded by leading mobile network operators, the NGMN’s goal is to ensure that next-generation network infrastructure, service platforms and devices will meet the requirements of operators and satisfy end user demand and expectations.

Its vision is to aim to provide impactful industry guidance to achieve innovative, sustainable and affordable mobile telecommunication services for the end user, with a focus on mastering the route to disaggregation/operating disaggregated networks, green future networks and 6G, while supporting 5G’s full implementation.

Green future networks: metering in virtualised RAN infrastructure was jointly developed by the NGMN membership, including mobile network operators (MNOs), vendors and research institutes. The NGMN Alliance said that it was delivering vital recommendations for industry standards, facilitating more precise and real-time estimations of energy consumed by virtualised or cloud-native network functions.

“Sustainability is a considerable concern for MNOs and their customers,” said Laurent Leboucher, member of the NGMN Alliance board and group CTO at telco Orange. “Accurate measurement of energy usage in our networks and associated carbon emissions is essential. This publication marks a crucial stride towards fostering greater transparency in energy consumption within virtualised infrastructure.”

NGMN Alliance CEO Anita Doehler said: “Bringing together the industry to tackle our shared challenges, unlocking opportunities and providing crucial guidance to the industry is NGMN’s core mission.”

The publication highlighted the necessity of enhancing current 3GPP virtual betwork function (VNF)/cloud network function (CNF) energy consumption estimation frameworks for more precise measurement of energy consumption by VNF/CNF on shared IT/cloud infrastructure. The publication offers several recommendations to standards development organisations (SDOs) to accelerate the development of enhanced frameworks.

Additionally, it suggests the potential of utilising Redfish by DMTF (distributed management task force) – a standard designed to deliver simple and secure management for converged, hybrid IT and a software-defined datacentre – along with open-source tools such as Kepler and Prometheus.

This combination enables MNOs to perform network-wide, real-time and accurate estimations of IT-infrastructure performance and power consumption. These estimations are regarded as accurate enough to be effectively considered as “measurements”.

The publication emphasised how operating models could influence MNOs’ ability to manage the performance and energy consumption of vRAN functions. It suggests that APIs between cloud service providers (CSPs) and MNOs may need to replace standardised FCAPS (fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security) interfaces if not exposed by the CSP.

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