Deciphering the challenges of 5G: between technological innovation and necessary energy reduction.
5G deployment yes…but at what cost? © Maddy Keynut
During Maddy Keynote 2021, the fundamental innovation event, several speakers discussed the issue of the deployment of the 5G network, which on the one hand allows for major innovations but also encourages a certain overconsumption…
Geraldine Russell, Journalist at Maddyness, moderated the conference with Dan Gesellhart, author and journalist, founder of TechTrash, with the following guests in attendance: Julian Nicholas, Group Digital Director of SNCF, Hughes Feribov, representative of The Shift Project, and Chloe Clare, CEO of namR.
What are the uses of 5G for the general public?
First,“It is important to distinguish between a public multi-service 5G network that is supposed to cover more than 90% of the territory, and 5G technology such as that which can be used in industrial sites such as that of SNCF” Hugues Ferreboeuf, representative of The Shift Project confirms.
On the general side, the 5G network we are talking about in the media is a new public mobile network to desaturate the 4G mobile networks in city centers. It is saturated with an increase in the amount of data associated with our new uses such as video consumption.
A representative of The Shift Project points out that the most widespread uses of 5G are ultimately similar to those of 4G: “Video and broadcasting in higher resolution, the emergence of new uses that were not possible on mobile before such as online gaming in virtual reality, which doubles the amount of data and time of use of each”.
To give an idea of the current situation, Chloe Claire, CEO of namR, mentioned in parallel with the 4G numbers:
“80% of the use is on video, and only 20% is for other uses, where there are industrial uses for optimization, operations, productivity, etc.”
What are the uses of 5G for businesses?
On the business front, 5G technology enables key innovations in the health, urban planning, and transportation sectors. Julien Nicolas, SNCF’s Chief Digital Officer, explains that the group’s main goal is to increase rail travel in France by 10% thanks to 5G.
To achieve this goal, they must rely on emerging technology solutions such as 5G, which is why they are piloting this technology in their tech centers. 5G enables them to process data faster and “Faster data processing means improving the quality of our services, getting trains back into circulation, so eventually there are more shows and more people on the train.”Julian Nicholas explains. The main challenge for SNCF is the ability to combine the use of technological innovations with the assurance of responsible digital use.
5G for everyone, a false promise?
The CEO of namR explains that 5G use will eventually be intended primarily for urban areas already saturated with 4G, not to facilitate connectivity in ultimately white areas.
“Where 5G technology would have been a promise of being able to reach white areas precisely in areas that were not occupied, in fact the opposite is true, because more antennas are needed, the investment is very huge, and if there is little use, it will not be of interest to distributors.”
How do you combine 5G with the environment?
It’s important to be able to stay in a connected world, eventually adopting a more reasonable use, and the general public should be alerted to this topic. Chloé Clair offers some examples of simple everyday behaviors that can also make a difference at scale: download Netflix episodes at home from Wi-Fi instead of watching them on a mobile network, and choose a refurbished smartphone instead of buying a new one. ..
People deeply interested in 5G deployment know that this could lead to a doubling of the power consumption of mobile networks within a few years, a representative of The Shift Project confirms.
How can this increase in consumption be addressed?
Geraldine Russell asks the following question: “Can we imagine a ‘responsible’ technology, or have we already crossed that milestone?” SNCF Group’s Julian Nicholas takes the floor and answers: “This is a difficult question, technology can be responsible if whoever uses it, it is men and women who ultimately bear that responsibility.”
Hugues Ferreboeuf also emphasizes the lack of information provided to French users, which consequently leads to a lack of awareness of our digital procedures: “There is a really missing public information campaign, with concrete examples like: What is the weight of carbon in a smartphone? What is the effect if you close the box at night? Simple gestures but what 60 million weighs a lot.”
The conclusion will be: Less stupid uses, more utility uses. As the journalist from Maddyness rightly points out. Julian Nicholas also adds at the end of the conference: Technology or innovations, if they ultimately also serve our sustainable development goals, in reducing our emissions, should be used.” Technology must be viewed clearly and responsibly.
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