Monday, April 1, 2024

Smart Green Energy Network Solution Harnesses AI to Lower Cell Sites’ Power Consumption

PLDT Inc.'s (PLDT) wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has deployed in all its wireless radio sites an innovative 'green radio' network solution that has enabled the company to not only reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions but also led to cost savings.

Intelligent and automated shutdowns, sleep, adaptive power to traffic consumption, and multilayer radio power optimization are among the newest eco-friendly innovations that Smart has implemented on its network to help cut its energy costs.

Piloted nationwide in 2023, the AI-powered solution enables remote and automatic adjustments to capacity and power usage depending on load conditions, which enables the company to consolidate and conserve radio resources. The solution is also radio coverage sensitive, which maintains network availability and is scalable with increased usage. It also has a time-based activation capability, allowing Smart to choose which time to turn the solution on or off, based on the traffic trend.

"Smart's nationwide network is supported with advanced & intelligent functionalities maximizing operational efficiencies. Running the network constantly even when traffic is much lower, especially during evening hours, is costly and inefficient in the use of network resources. Our green radio innovation is proven to harness artificial intelligence to track the activity on our network so that we can reduce the power consumption of our cell sites whenever they are not being fully utilized," said Radames Zalameda, Head of Network Quality, PLDT, and Smart. "This means that certain elements of a cell site are turned off when demand is low but are automatically switched on when demand comes back. Combined with Smart's Self-Organizing Network (SON), this also enables us to adjust the capacity of the cell sites as needed to support data traffic," Zalameda added.


Over the last twelve months, because of implementing this green network innovation, Smart reduced power consumption by around 10,900MWH, equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from more than 1,690 gasoline-powered vehicles driven for a year*, or carbon dioxide emissions from electricity consumption of 920 homes for a year*. Smart continues its deliberate intent of higher energy usage savings with adoption of predictive and machine-learning capabilities in our mobile network this year.


"This initiative is a testament to PLDT's longstanding commitment to embed sustainability practices into our operations as part of our drive to reach our sustainability goals while delivering leveled-up services to our customers nationwide," said PLDT and Smart Network Head Butch Jimenez.


Chief Sustainability Officer, Melissa Vergel de Dios, further added, “The energy efficiency initiatives implemented by the PLDT and Smart Network teams demonstrate the organization-wide recognition of the need to do business responsibly and of our stewardship role of caring for the planet for the next generation.”


To support the PLDT Group’s decarbonization roadmap that aims to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, Smart’s mother firm, PLDT, recently secured a ₱1.0bn Green Loan facility from HSBC Philippines to partially fund the ongoing nationwide modernization and expansion of its fiber network supporting internet delivery platforms. The group is also actively exploring the integration of renewables, green technologies, and various energy optimization initiatives.


As of end-2023, Smart's mobile network serves 97% of the country's population. Supporting Smart's mobile network is PLDT's fiber infrastructure, the country's most extensive.  The PLDT Group’s investment in its fixed and wireless network is in line with its commitment to narrow the digital divide and provide connectivity for all, backing the Government's overall push for nationwide digitalization.


These initiatives support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), particularly on SDG No. 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.


*Figures were calculated using the Philippines' Department of Energy’s Emission Factor and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

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