i2CAT will contribute to the development of an energy-efficient and sustainable network architecture within the BeGREEN research project


The i2CAT Foundation has recently joined BeGREEN (Beyond 5G Artificial Intelligence Assisted Energy Efficient Open Radio Access Network), a research project funded under Horizon Europe’s European Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) with almost 5 million euros. The project’s consortium is formed by 12 European partners along the value and technology chain, selected to cover all the project objectives and activities adequately.

BeGREEN will take a holistic view to provide evolving radio networks that accommodate increasing traffic and service levels and consider power consumption as a factor. First and foremost, the BeGREEN focus will be towards an energy-efficient sustainable network architecture. On the one hand, such network architecture should be optimized for energy efficiency. On the other, it should offer corresponding services to the industry verticals to maximize the “enabling effect”. “5G and 6G networks will play an ambitious role towards sustainability, to reduce its footprint on energy, resources, and emissions and to improve sustainability in other parts of society and industry”, state the researchers.

Researchers will evaluate the different mechanisms by which power consumption could be reduced. At a hardware level, techniques will include improvement of the energy efficiency of power amplifiers and the appropriate use of accelerators to reduce power consumption relative to the use of generic compute platforms when performing network function virtualization. At a link level, researchers will consider techniques to better estimate the impact of the radio channel and the resulting improvement in spectral efficiency balanced against the increased power consumption associated with the resulting calculations. At a system level, researchers will consider new nodes and architectures that move away from the assumption that additional capacity requires the installation of new base stations.

The i2CAT Foundation will lead Work Package 4, “AI-Assisted O-RAN-based Edge and NFV Energy Optimisation”, within the project. Researchers from the Mobile Wireless Internet and the AI Driven-Systems areas will develop solutions based on O-RAN architecture and using AI algorithms to improve energy efficiency at the edge and NFV levels. They will also propose an Intelligent Plane within the O-RAN architecture to facilitate the implementation of AI-driven optimisations focused on energy consumption reduction and to integrate the control of Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces.

BeGREEN will also prioritize the creation of a solid techno-economic basis for the assessment of energy-efficient technology choices in Europe. The technological solutions developed within the project will be showcased in three demonstrations. The first one will be deployed at IHP premises to showcase the joint communications and sensing techniques toward efficient resource allocation and optimized power consumption. Furthermore, two major project demonstrations will be performed at BT premises in Adastral Park. First, the ‘Intelligent Plane’ implemented using ORAN rApps and xApps will be demonstrated on a network emulator. Then, the project’s final integrated demonstrator using the Adastral testbed facilities to showcase BeGREEN technology innovations.