Skip to main content


Log in

A Survey of Green Mobile Networks: Opportunities and Challenges

  • Published:
Mobile Networks and Applications Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The explosive development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has significantly enlarged both the energy demands and the CO 2 emissions, and consequently contributes to make the energy crisis and global warming problems worse. However, as the main force of the ICT field, the mobile networks, are currently focusing on the capacity, variety and stability of the communication services, without paying too much severe concerns on the energy efficiency. The escalating energy costs and environmental concerns have already created an urgent need for more energy-efficient “green” wireless communications. In this paper, we survey and discuss various remarkable techniques toward green mobile networks to date, mainly targeting mobile cellular networks. We also summarize the current research projects related to green mobile networks, along with the taxonomy of energy-efficiency metrics. We finally discuss and elaborate future research opportunities and design challenges for green mobile networks.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. For simplicity, we will use “mobile networks” for the cellular networks throughout this paper

  2. More specific surveys on the latter two can be found in [16] and [17] respectively.

  3. Although data centers in backhaul are used not only by mobile hosts but also by wired hosts, we still carry out discussions in this paper, as mobile devices and networks are becoming more important.


  1. Fettweis G, Zimmermann E (2008) ICT energy consumption-trends and challenges. In: Proceedings of the 11th international symposium on Wireless Personal Multimedia Communications (WPMC)

  2. Hansen J, Sato M, Kharecha P, Russell G, Lea DW, Siddal M (2007) Climate change and trace gases. Philos Trans R Soc 365(1856):1925–1954

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Williams F (2008) Green wireless communications. eMobility, Tech. Rep

  4. Kelly T (2007) ICTs and climate change. ITU-T Technology, Tech. Rep

  5. Karl H (2003) An overview of energy efficient techniques for mobile communication systems. Technische University Berlin, Tech. Rep

  6. McLaughlin S (2008) Green radio: the key issues—programme objectives and overview. Wireless World Research Forum

  7. CISCO (2010) Cisco visual networking index: global mobile data traffic forecast update, 2010—2015, Tech. Rep

  8. McGreehan J (2009) Climate change and natural resources: what contribution can wireless communications make? UK Green Wireless Communication—Future Trend and Technology

  9. Etoh M, Ohya T, Nakayama Y (2008) Energy consumption issues on mobile network systems. In: Proceedings of the 2008 international Symposium on Applications and the Internet (SAINT)

  10. GreenTouch Open Forum (2011) Seoul, South Korea, April 8

  11. Haardt M (2008) Future mobile and wireless radio systems: challenges in European research. The European Commision, Tech. Rep

  12. Quittek J (ed) (2010) Requirements for power monitoring. Internet Draft, Network Working Group, IETF. Accessed 28 November 2010

  13. Quittek J (ed) (2010) Definition of managed objects for energy management. Internet Draft, Network Working Group, IETF. Accessed 28 November 2010

  14. Knisely D, Yoshizawa T, Favichia F (2009) Standardization of Femtocells in 3GPP. IEEE Commun Mag 47(9): 68–75

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Knisely D, Favichia F (2009) Standardization of Femtocells in 3GPP2. IEEE Commun Mag 47(9):76–82

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Jones CE, Sivalingam KM, Agrawal P, Chen JC (2001) A survey of energy efficient network protocols for wireless networks. Wirel Netw 7:343–358

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  17. Anastasia G, Contib M, Francescoa M, Passarellab A (2009) Energy conservation in wireless sensor networks: a survey. Ad Hoc Networks 7(3):537–568

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Lister D (2009) An operator’s view on green radio. Keynote Speech, GreenComm

  19. Karl H (2003) An overview of energy-efficiency techniques for mobile communication systems. Telecommunication Networks Group, TKN-03-017, Tech. Rep

  20. Zeller D, Blume O, Ferling D (2010) Challenges and enabling technologies for energy aware mobile radio networks. IEEE Commun Mag 48(11):66–72

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Jiang H, Zhuang W, Shen X (2005) Cross-layer design for resource allocation in 3G wireless networks and beyond. IEEE Commun Mag 43:120–126

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Snyder J (2007) Microsoft: datacenter growth Defies Moore’s Law. PCWorld. Accessed 19 Oct 2010

  23. Liu J, Zhao F, Liu X, He W (2009) Challenges towards elastic power management in internet data centers. In: Proceedings of the 29th IEEE international conference on distributed computing systems workshops

  24. Fisher W, Suchara M, Rexford J (2010) Greening backbone networks: reducing energy consumption by shutting off cables in bundled links. In: Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM workshop on Green Networking

  25. Heller B, Seetharaman S, Mahadevan P, Yiakoumis Y, Sharma P, Banerjee S, McKeown N (2010) ElasticTree: saving energy in data center networks. In: Proceedings of USENIX NSDI

  26. Liu L, Wang H, Liu X, Jin X, He WB, Wang QB, Chen Y (2009) GreenCloud: a new architecture for green data center. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Autonomic Computing and Communications (ICAC)

  27. Ye K, Huang D, Jiang X, Chen H, Wu S (2010) Virtual machine based energy-efficient data center architecture for cloud computing: a performance perspective. In: Proceedings of GreenCom

  28. Meng X, Pappas V, Zhang L (2010) Improving the scalability of data center networks with traffic-aware virtual machine placement. In: Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM

  29. Matt S (2009) The green data center 2.0: energy-efficient computing in the 21st century, chapter 3, 2009 update.

  30. Meijer GI (2010) Cooling energy-hungry data centers. Science 328(5976):318–319

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Jie L, Feng Z, Jeff O’R, Amaya S, Michael M, Chieh-J M L, Andreas T (2008) Project Genome: wireless network for data center cooling. The Architecture Journal, Microsoft 18:28–34

    Google Scholar 

  32. Marsan MA, Chiaraviglio L, Ciullo D, Meo M (2009) Optimal energy savings in cellular access networks. In: Proceedings of IEEE ICC, GreenComm workshop

  33. Zhou S, Gong J, Yang Z, Niu Z, Yang P (2009) Green mobile access network with dynamic base station energy saving. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiCom

  34. Liao WH, Yen WM (2009) Power-saving scheduling with a QoS guarantee in a mobile WiMAX system. J Netw Comput Appl 32(6):1144–1152

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Han C, Beh KC, Nicolau M, Armour S, Doufexi A (2010) Power efficient dynamic resource scheduling algorithms for LTE. In: Proceedings of IEEE VTC-fall

  36. Niu Z, Wu Y, Gong J, Yang Z (2010) Cell zooming for cost-efficient green cellular networks. IEEE Commun Mag 48(11):74–79

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Bhaumik S, Narlikar G, Chattopadhyay S, Kanugovi S (2010) Breathe to stay cool: adjusting cell sizes to reduce energy consumption. In: Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM workshop on green networking

  38. Mobile Europe (2008) Green base station—the benefits of going green. Accessed 19 Oct 2010

  39. Haynes T (2007) Designing energy-smart 3G base stations. RF design magazine. Accessed 19 Oct 2010

  40. Hammi O, Kwan AKC, Helaoui M, Ghannouchi FM (2010) Green power amplification systems for 3G+ wireless communication infrastructure. In: Proceedings of VTC-fall

  41. Chen T, Zhang H (2010) Towards green wireless access networks. In: Proceedings of ChinaCom

  42. Ericsson (2009) Extended cell DTX for enhanced energy-efficient network operation (2009). 3GPP R1-095011

  43. Huawei (2010) Overview to LTE energy saving solutions to cell switch off/on (2010). 3GPP R1-100162

  44. Juniper (2009) Green mobile networks and base stations strategies, scenarios and forecasts 2009–2014. Juniper Research, White Paper

  45. Chandrasekhar V, Andrews JG (2009) Femtocell Networks: a survey. IEEE Commun Mag 46(9):59–67

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Kim RY, Kwak JS (2009) WiMAX Femtocell: requirements, challenges, and solutions. IEEE Commun Mag 47(9):84–91

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Golaup A, Mustapha M, Patanapongpibul LB (2009) Femtocell access control strategy in UMTS and LTE. IEEE Commun Mag 47(9):117–123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. S-ping Y, Talwar S, Corp I, S-choon L, Kim H (2008) WiMAX Femtocells: a perspective on network architecture, capacity, and coverage. IEEE Commun Mag 46(10):58–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Claussen H, Ho LTW, Samuel LG (2008) Self-optimization of coverage for Femtocell deployments. In: Proceedings of wireless telecommunications symposium symposium

  50. Chandrasekhar V, Andrews JG (2009) Uplink capacity and interference avoidance for two-tier Femtocell networks. IEEE Trans Wirel Commun 8(7):3498–3509

    Google Scholar 

  51. Jada M, Hamalainen J, Jantti R, Hossain MMA (2010) Impact of Femtocells to the WCDMA network energy efficiency. In: Proceedings of IEEE international conference on broadband network and multimedia technology

  52. Arulselvan N, Ramachandran V, Kalyanasundaram S, Guang H (2009) Distributed power control mechanisms for HSDPA Femtocells. In: Proceedings of VTC spring

  53. Jin J, Li B (2010) Cooperative resource management in cognitive WiMAX with Femtocells. In Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM

  54. Kwak DY, Lee JS, Oh YC, Lee SC (2008) Development of WiBro (Mobile WiMAX) Femtocell and related technical issues. In: Proceedings of IEEE Globecom

  55. Andrews M, Capdevielle V, Feki A, Gupta P (2010) Autonomous spectrum sharing for mixed LTE Femto and macro cells deployments. In: Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM

  56. Chandrasekhar V, Andrews JG, Muharemovic T, Shen Z, Gatherer A (2009) Power Control in Two-tier Femtocell Networks. IEEE Trans Wirel Commun 8(8):4316–4328

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Rodriguez NV, Hui P, Crowcroft J, Rice A (2010) Exhausting battery statistics, understanding the energy demands on mobile handsets. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiHeld

  58. Falaki H, Lymberopoulos D, Mahajan R, Kandula S, Estrin D (2010) A first look at traffic on Smartphones. In: Proceedings of ACM internet measurement conference

  59. Wang L, Manner J (2010) Energy consumption analysis of WLAN, 2G and 3G interfaces. In: Proceedings of GreenCom

  60. Rahmati A, Zhong L (2007) Context-for-wireless: context-sensitive energy-efficient wireless data transfer. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiSys

  61. Ra MR, Paek JY, Sharma AB, Govindan R, Krieger MH, Neel MJ (2010) Energy-delay tradeoffs in Smartphone applications. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiSys, pp 255–270

  62. Dogar FR, Steenkiste P, Papagiannaki K (2010) Catnap: exploiting high bandwidth wireless interfaces to save energy for mobile devices. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiSys, pp 107–233

  63. Schulman A, Navda V, Ramjee R, Spring N, Deshpande P, Grunewald C, Padmanabhan VN, Jain K (2010) Bartendr: a practical approach to energy-aware cellular data scheduling. In: Proceedings ACM MobiCom

  64. Lu X, Erkip E, Wang Y, Goodman D (2004) Power efficient multimedia communication over wireless channels. IEEE J Sel Areas Commun 21(10):1738–1751

    Google Scholar 

  65. Baset S, Reich J, Janak J, Kasparek P, Misra V, Rubenstein D, Schulzrinne H (2010) How green is IP-telephony? In: Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM workshop on green networking

  66. Anand B, Ananda AL, Chan MC, Le LT, Balan RK (2009) Game action based power management for multiplayer online game. In: Proceedings of the 1st ACM workshop on networking, systems, and applications for Mobile Handhelds (MobiHeld)

  67. Kelenyi I, Nurminen JK (2010) CloudTorrent—energy-efficient bittorrent content sharing for mobile devices via cloud services. In: Proceedings of IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC)

  68. Kelenyi I, Ludanyi A, Nurminen JK (2010) BitTorrent on mobile phones—energy efficiency of a distributed proxy solution. In: Proceedings of international green computing confederacy

  69. Skyhook Accessed 19 Oct 2010

  70. Kjargaard MB, Langdal J, Godsk T, Toftkjar T (2009) Entracked: energy-efficient robust position tracking for mobile devices. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiSys, pp 221–234

  71. Constandache I, Gaonkar S, Sayler M, Choudhury RR, Cox O (2009) EnLoc: energy-efficient localization for mobile phones. In: Proceedings of INFOCOM

  72. Lin K, Kansal A, Lymberopoulos D, Zhao F (2010) Energy-accuracy trade-off for continuous mobile device location. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiSys, pp 285–297

  73. FP7 Consultation Meeting (2008) Europe future mobile and wireless radio systems: challenges in european research. Tech. Rep

  74. EARTH project: enablers for energy efficient wireless networks. Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  75. Green IT Initiatives in Japan. Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  76. GreenTouch Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  77. OPERA-Net Project. Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  78. GREEN-T Project Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  79. The Mobile Virtual Centre of Excellence, Core 5 Research on Green Radio. Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  80. Cool Silicon Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  81. The Green Grid Accessed 25 Oct 2010

  82. Belady C (2007) Green grid data center power efficiency metrics: PUE and DCiE. Green Grid, White Paper. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  83. GSM Lunches Mobile Energy Efficiency Network Benchmarking Service. GSM World. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  84. GREEN500 Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  85. Cool IT leaderboard by GreenPeace. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  86. Aruna Prem Bianzino, Anand Kishore Raju, Dario Rossi (2010) Apple-to-Apple: a framework analysis for energy-efficiency in networks. In: Proceedings of SIGMETRICS, 2nd GreenMetrics workshop

  87. The Energy Consumption Rating (ECR) Initiative. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  88. Kharitonov D (2008) Energy efficiency of ICT problem space, metrics, gaps. Juniper Tech. Rep

  89. ATIS-0600015.2009 (2009) Energy efficiency for telecommunication equipment: methodology for measurement and reporting general requirements. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  90. ATIS-0600015.01.2009 (2009) Energy efficiency for telecommunication equipment: methodology for measurement and reporting—server requirements. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  91. ATIS-0600015.02.2009 (2009) Energy efficiency for telecommunication equipment: methodology for measurement and reporting transport requirements. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  92. Verizon (2008) Verizon technical purchasing requirements. Accessed 28 Nov 2010

  93. ETSI (2008) Environmental engineering energy efficiency of wireless access network equipment. Technical Specification, ETSI TS 102:706

  94. Bauch G, Dietl G (2008) MIMO is green: more antennas for less power consumption. In: Proceedings of the 1st international workshop on green wireless (W-GREEN)

  95. GreenTouch (2011) GreenTouch demonstrates large-scale antenna—improving energy efficiency. com/watch?v=U3euDDr0uvo. Accessed 5 Mar 2011

  96. Yang WH, Wang YC, Tseng YC, Lin BSP (2009) An energy-efficient handover scheme with geographic mobility awareness in WiMAX-WiFi integrated networks. In: Proceedings of IEEE WCNC

  97. Richter F, Fehske AJ, Marsch R, Fettweis GP (2010) Traffic demand and energy efficiency in heterogeneous cellular mobile radio networks. In: IEEE 71st VTC-spring

  98. Sharma A, Navda V, Ramjee R, Padmanabhan V, Belding E (2010) Cool-Tether: energy efficient on-the-fly WiFi hot-spots using mobile phones. In: Proceedings of international Conference on emerging Networking Experiments and Technologies (CoNEXT)

  99. Lei H, Fan Wang X, Chong PHJ (2010) Opportunistic relay selection in future green multihop cellular networks. In: Proceedings of IEEE VTC-fall, GreenNet workshop

  100. Akyildiz IF, Lee WY, Vuran MC, Mohanty S (2009) A survey on spectrum management in cognitive radio networks. IEEE Commun Mag 46(4):40–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  101. Grace D, Chen J, Jiang T, Mitchell PD (2009) Using cognitive radio to deliver ‘green’ communications. In: Proceedings of CROWNCOM

  102. Xiang L, Luo J, Vasilakos A (2011) Compressed data aggregation for energy efficient wireless sensor networks. In: Proceedings of SECON

  103. Wang Y-C, Peng W-C, Tseng Y-C (2009) Energy-balanced dispatch of mobile sensors in a hybrid wireless sensor network. IEEE Trans Parallel Distrib Syst 21(12):1836–1850

    Article  Google Scholar 

  104. Li M, Liu Y (2010) Iso-Map: energy-efficient contour mapping in wireless sensor networks. IEEE Trans Knowl Data Eng 22(5):699–710

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  105. Liu Y, Liu K, Li M (2010) Passive diagnosis for wireless sensor networks. IEEE/ACM Trans Netw 18(4):1132–1144

    Article  Google Scholar 

  106. Mo L, He Y, Liu Y, Zhao J, Tang S, Li X-Y, Dai G (2009) Canopy closure estimates with greenorbs: sustainable sensing in the forest. In: Proceedings of SenSys

  107. Liu Y, He Y, Li M, Wang J, Liu K, Mo L, Dong W, Yang Z, Xi M, Zhao J, Li X-Y (2011) Does wireless sensor network scale? A measurement study on GreenOrbs. In: Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM

  108. Wu G, Talwar S, Johnsson K, Himayat N, Johnson KD (2011) IEEE Commun Mag 49(4):36–43

    Article  Google Scholar 

  109. Chen Y, Yang Y (2009) Cellular based machine to machine communication with Un-Peer2Peer protocol stack. In: Proceedings of IEEE 70th VTC-fall

  110. Lee EA (2008) Cyber physical systems: design challenges, Tech. Rep

  111. Venkatasubramanian KK, Banerjee A, Gupta SKS (2009) Green and sustainable cyber-physical security solutions for body are networks. In: Proceedings of the 6th international workshop on wearable and implantable body sensor networks

  112. Springer (2010) Cloud computing: principles, systems and applications, book chapter as part of series computer communications and networks

  113. GreenPeace (2010) Make IT green—cloud computing and its contribution to climate change. GreenPeace, Tech. Rep

  114. Accenture (2010) Cloud computing and sustainability: the environmental benefits of moving to the cloud. Accenture, White Paper

  115. Baliga BJ, Ayre RWA, Hinton K, Tucker RS (2010) Green cloud computing: balancing energy in processing, storage and transport. In: Proceedings of the IEEE

  116. Juniper (2010) Mobile Cloud Applications & Services Monetising Enterprise & Consumer Markets, 2009-2014. Juniper Research, Tech. Rep

  117. Aggarwal B, Chitnis P, Dey A, Jain K, Navda V, Padmanabhan VN, Ramjee R, Schulman A, Spring N (2010) Stratus: energy-efficient mobile communication using cloud support. In: Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM demo session

  118. Miettinen AP, Nurminen JK (2010) Energy efficiency of mobile clients in cloud computing. In: Proceedings of the 2nd USENIX conference on hot topics in cloud computing

  119. Wendell P, Jiang JW, Freedman MJ, Rexford J (2010) DONAR: decentralized server selection for cloud services. In: Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM

  120. Kim S, Wang X, Kim H, Kwon TT, Choi Y (2010) Measurement and analysis of BitTorrent traffic in mobile WiMAX. In: Proceedings of IEEE international conference on Peer-2-Peer computing (P2P)

  121. Wang X, Kim S, Kwon T, Kim H, Choi Y (2010) Unveiling the BitTorrent performance in the mobile WiMAX networks. In: Proceedings of international Passive and Active Measurement Conference (PAM)

  122. Zhuang Z, Kim HH, Singh JP (2010) Improving energy efficiency of location sensing on Smartphones. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiSys

  123. Constandache I, Choudhury RR, Rhee I (2010) Towards mobile phone localization without war-driving. In: Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM

  124. Constandache I, Bao X, Azizyan M, Choudhury RR (2010) Did you see Bob? Human localization using mobile phones. In: Proceedings of ACM MobiCom, pp 149–160

  125. Courcoubetis C, Weber R (2003) Pricing communication networks—economics, technology and modelling. Wiley Press

  126. Jung H, Tuffin B (2008) Pricing for heterogeneous services in OFDMA 802.16 systems. In: Proceedings of IEEE WONS

  127. Cadre H, Bouhtou M, Tuffin B (2009) A pricing model for a mobile network operator sharing limited resource with a mobile virtual network operator. In: Proceedings of sixth international workshop on Internet Charging and QoS Technology (ICQT)

  128. Feng N, Mau SC, Mandayam NB (2004) Pricing and power control for joint network-centric and user-centric radio resource management. IEEE Trans Commun 52(9):1544–1557

    Article  Google Scholar 

  129. Betz SM, Poor HV (2008) Energy efficient communications in CDMA networks: a game theoretic analysis considering operating costs. IEEE Trans Signal Process 56(10):5181–5190

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  130. ABIresearch (2008) Mobile networks go green—minimizing power consumption and leveraging renewable energy, Tech. Rep

Download references


This research was partly supported by NAP of Korea Research Council of Fundamental Science & Technology, and also supported by the KCC (Korea Communications Commission), Korea, under the R&D program supervised by the KCA (Korea Communications Agency) (KCA-2011-11-913-05-002). The ICT at Seoul National University provides research facilities for this study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ted Taekyoung Kwon.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wang, X., Vasilakos, A.V., Chen, M. et al. A Survey of Green Mobile Networks: Opportunities and Challenges. Mobile Netw Appl 17, 4–20 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: