Insomnia in the Access or How to Curb Access Network Related Energy Consumption

Abstract

Access networks include modems, home gateways, and DSL Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs), and are responsible for 70-80% of total network-based energy consumption. In this paper, we take an in-depth look at the problem of greening access networks, identify root problems, and propose practical solutions for their user- and ISP-parts. On the user side, the combination of continuous light traffic and lack of alternative paths condemns gateways to being powered most of the time despite having Sleep-on-Idle (SoI) capabilities. To address this, we introduce Broadband Hitch-Hiking (BH2), that takes advantage of the overlap of wireless networks to aggregate user traffic in as few gateways as possible. In current urban settings BH2 can power off 65-90% of gateways. Powering off gateways permits the remaining ones to synchronize at higher speeds due to reduced crosstalk from having fewer active lines. Our tests reveal speedup up to 25%. On the ISP side, we propose introducing simple inexpensive switches at the distribution frame for batching active lines to a subset of cards letting the remaining ones sleep. Overall, our results show an 80% energy savings margin in access networks. The combination of BH2 and switching gets close to this margin, saving 66% on average.

Publication
Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM’11