DECT NR+ - another piece in the puzzle for saving energy. And much more.

Thursday 30 March 2023

There’s a lot of talk about energy today. And that’s good. This is new territory for the DECT Forum, but IoT, energy and comparisons with other IoT solutions are now very much part of our future, so let’s dig into this. We need solutions and actions that are compatible with a greener future. Just like in IoT, there’s no holy grail that can solve it all. Every small decision counts. Connectivity is no exception - there, too, are bad, good, and great options. 

A recent report published by ABI Research shows quite a few interesting aspects of DECT NR+, the non-cellular 5G connectivity technology. Developed specifically for affordable, large-scale IoT networks, the potential sustainability benefits are significant. 

An earlier study by Tampere University in Finland already demonstrated DECT NR+ with up to 60% lower energy use at the end device level relative to Cat M and NB-IoT technologies. This equates to an increase of 2 to 5 years in device battery life using four AA batteries or 2.4X more messages for the same energy consumption. 

The ABI Research brings up new dimensions such as the overall network energy and CO2 consumption; for equivalent coverage across a 4G or 5G network, DECT NR+ uses at most 1% of the energy used in the cellular small cell network. Just 1% - that’s quite a saving! In terms of combined CO2 savings, if all cellular small cell networks for IoT were replaced by DECT NR+, that would translate into removing the emissions of nearly 200,000 cars between 2022 and 2030. It might not sound life-changing, but it’s yet another drop in the river and, in any case, the most sustainable way to connect. 

 Similarly, the DECT NR+ power efficiency advantage over cellular would avoid truck miles resulting from replacing batteries in battery-powered devices. That, too, has a big CO2 impact. The best example of this is gas and water meters. Cat M and NB-IoT technologies are driving the deployment growth of these devices, though poor coverage can quickly drain the batteries. DECT NR+ can help save tens, if not hundreds, of millions of gallons of gasoline. 

 The carbon handprint impact is much bigger if we look beyond the carbon footprint. DECT NR+ can bring connectivity to use cases that are not addressable by any other technology, such as those requiring large scale with a high-density inventory. Having full supply chain visibility improves efficiency, lowers waste, improves predictability, and leads to smaller fleets of reusable packaging leading to an important handprint impact. The report lists outstanding volume expectations in asset visibility – more than all other wireless together – and the research also brings up other great examples. 

DECT NR+ comes with low cost, high reliability, and deployment flexibility. These factors are key for accelerated adoption of IoT services which, in turn, will provide significant overall sustainability benefits. For example, if we look at the overall energy-saving potential of AI and IoT as a technology, we talk about total savings of 5.3 PWh of energy by 2030*. That’s up to a quarter of the world’s electricity production this year! Not that small a piece in the puzzle in the end, when all the streams of improvements are put together. 

That’s the power of enabling technologies for better sustainability! 

* https://transformainsights.com/sustainability 

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