Three UK, Ericsson claim new standard for smart and sustainable mobile networks

Leading operator Three UK believes it has hit a new milestone in its network sustainability journey thanks to the deployment of next-generation artificial intelligence (AI)-powered hardware and software services from Ericsson.

As part of an ongoing network modernisation initiative over the past 18 months, Three UK has worked with Ericsson on improving network energy performance thanks to what it called a combination of “industry-leading” energy-efficient radios and the use of AI and data analytics.

Late in 2023, Three UK became one of the first major operators in the UK to deploy Ericsson’s dual-band Radio 4490, which consumes less power and is 25% lighter than previous models, simplifying site access and speeding up site upgrades.

Combined with the deployment of more energy-efficient radios, Three UK has also implemented a series of software features that consume less power per radio during low traffic hours.

Through to advanced machine learning, passive cooling and power-saving features, the new generation of radio works autonomously across 4G and 5G networks to switch off radio components when not active, while having the capability to switch on again in microseconds for the next service request.

Furthermore, AI, data analytics and Micro Sleep features allow radio components to autonomously deactivate when not in use.

The firms calculate that the combination of hardware and software upgrades deliver energy-efficiency benefits and lower CO2 emissions, improving energy efficiency by up to 70% at selected sites, all completed while improving network performance but reducing site footprint and lowering CO2 emissions.

Three UK chief network officer Iain Milligan said: “Three UK’s collaboration with Ericsson marks a milestone in our commitment to sustainability. We’ve achieved excellent improvements in energy-efficiency while expanding network capabilities for our customers. We plan to take these learnings on board for future projects, ensuring that we continue to improve the environmental impact of our network.”

Evangelia Tzifa, chief technology officer of networks and managed services for Ericsson UK and Ireland, said: “Together with Three UK, we are redefining the network of the future and making it both smarter and more energy-efficient. To increase network availability and performance while reducing network energy consumption is a testament to the technology and expertise of our two great teams.

“I am both excited and proud to know that we are building a modern digital infrastructure together that brings not only superior performance for Three customers, but also helps to make the future more promising and sustainable.”

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