tribune. The process of allocating the frequencies necessary for 5G networks has been underway for a few weeks now. As with many other “tech” subjects, this deployment seems self-evident, based solely on the assertion repeatedly heard that it is a strategic issue and a major industrial project.
But in doing so, are we not confusing, like an excited kid on Christmas Eve, what is new with what is useful, what seems urgent with what is important? Is it normal, now that decarbonization is in everyone's mind, that the implementation of 5G is not accompanied in France by any evaluation weighing the additional service rendered with the additional environmental disadvantages – because there have any?
And, while the negative effects of “digital proliferation” on personal well-being – especially of children – and collective well-being are beginning to be well documented, we must add to it without even taking the time to know what we are in launching? Let's talk about energy, first: 65% of the direct energy consumption of a mobile operator comes from the operation of the equipment providing the radio coverage.
Strong demand for energy consumption
However, there is today a consensus that 5G equipment consumes three times more than 4G equipment, and that adding 5G equipment to existing sites (2G, 3G, 4G) will lead to double the consumption of site (5G Telecom Power Target Network Whitepaper, Huawei, September 2019). In addition, with 5G it will take three times more sites than with 4G to provide the same coverage, in accordance with the wishes of the government.
In the end, with this deployment the energy consumption of mobile operators would be multiplied by 2.5 to 3 in the next five years, which is consistent with the observation of Chinese operators, who have deployed 80,000 5G sites for a year . This impact is not anecdotal since it would represent around 10 TWh additional, representing a 2% increase in the country's electricity consumption.
To this we must add the energy necessary for the manufacture of network elements, and especially for the production of the billions of terminals and connected objects that we will want to connect via this network, and including the Consumer Electronics Show 2019, which ends on January 10, again displayed. The energy required to manufacture terminals, servers and network elements represents three times the operating energy of networks, excluding data centers.