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Concordia partners with Ericsson Canada and other Montreal-based universities to improve 5G sustainability using artificial intelligence

The joint research initiative aims to use AI to reduce the energy use of 5G networks
October 14, 2022

Ericsson Canada has announced a strategic research program led by École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), and in partnership with Concordia, Polytechnique Montréal and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help the telecommunications sector minimize the energy consumption of 5G networks. The project aims to help communication service providers shrink their carbon footprint and reduce operational costs by saving on energy, which will, in turn, help lower costs for consumers and decrease harmful emissions.

Erik Ekudden, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ericsson, says: “5G networks are the technological backbone of our society and they represent an opportunity to digitalize industries and significantly reduce global CO2 emissions. Under the focused guidance of our partners and with the help of Ericsson experts in Montreal, a leading AI hub, our researchers will test and refine solutions to make 5G & Beyond technologies smarter, more energy-efficient for service providers and cost-efficient for end users.”

Data scientists from Ericsson’s Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (GAIA) in Montreal will support the three-year research project in close collaboration with seven professors and 27 researchers from ÉTS, Concordia and Polytechnique and expertise from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Ericsson will bring its global expertise in this area from Ericsson Research to steer the group in standardizing their research findings and drive towards industrialized solutions that can be integrated into its 5G products and services.

The outcomes of this research are also expected to strengthen ECCC’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) modeling solutions for the information and communication technologies sector and contribute to global standardization. This partnership is supported by contributions from the Quebec government (through InnovÉÉ - innovation en énergie électrique) and The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, says: “The Government of Canada is in a constant search for innovative ways to cut pollution and fight climate change, in industries both young and old. Teaming up Ericsson Canada with Montreal’s world-class universities and globe-leading AI research and development community is another smart step forward in the pursuit of net-zero jobs and growth.”

“A research project of this scale requires the robust support of multiple organizations,” points out Dominique Bérubé, vice president of Research and Graduate Studies at Concordia. “With our seasoned history collaborating with Ericsson, it was only natural that Concordia and our Applied AI Institute, which focuses on finding applied solutions to real world challenges, would participate in this initiative. Sustainability is a major priority for the university and we’re proud to contribute to a project that can reduce the energy consumption of 5G networks.”

“There is consensus concerning the climate emergency, and climate change is now inevitable,” adds Christian Casanova, vice president of Research and Partnerships at École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). “We must act now to reduce our ecological footprint, starting by designing technologies that are less harmful to the environment. The use of AI in designing communication networks will enable us to reduce energy demands while maintaining a strong economy.”

The information and communication technologies (ICT) industry is an energy intensive and growing sector. 5G is more energy efficient than previous generations of mobile communications, however, the energy consumption of entire mobile networks is expected to increase due to the need to expand network capacity to meet the exponential growth in data traffic. By embedding AI into those networks, researchers will devise ways for them to self-configure and reconfigure to push energy consumption to a minimum while maintaining the required quality of service.

“The climate crisis demands novel solutions and the pooling of multidisciplinary talents,” says François Bertrand, vice president, Research and Innovation at Polytechnique Montréal. “Over the next three years, by combining their strengths with those of professors and researchers from four organizations, our experts will harness the potential of artificial intelligence and work on reducing the energy required by base stations to transmit signals to wireless devices, which is crucial since the number of connected devices is expected to increase dramatically.”

“We are convinced that the collaborative research model is a must to develop new technologies to reduce the GHG emissions of the energy sector faster, smarter, and more competitively,” declares Thierry St-Cyr, chief executive officer of InnovÉÉ – Innovation en énergie électrique.

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