Telecommunications and sustainability: faster, cleaner and more efficient networks

Recently, we hit a no-going-back tipping point when it comes to telecommunications. The industry’s rapid development and positive impact on our ways of life (and growth as a society) are now of such significance that it would be impossible to slow their progress. But, at the same time, we have to be conscious of the fact that sustainability and survival are concepts that go hand in hand.


It’s no good to anyone having a hyper-connected and communicative society if the planet and the species can’t survive. The telecoms world – just like any other industry – must constantly focus on how to face down future challenges as it grows, with an awareness of sustainability and renewable energies.



The benefits of sustainable telecommunications

Telecommunications have a significant impact on the environment, energy consumption and carbon emissions. According to data from World Energy Outlook and Inside Telecom, for example, the telecoms industry accounts for between 2-3% of energy consumption worldwide. Many of the components used in manufacturing devices and infrastructure materials are hard to recycle and don’t biodegrade. Focusing on sustainability within the production and operational side of the telecommunications sector would lead to multiple benefits, which can be grouped into three main areas:



Reduced environmental impacts

By producing fewer carbon emissions and using greener energy sources, the telecommunications market’s carbon footprint could fall significantly. Powering data centres with solar panels and opting for recycled – and recyclable – materials when manufacturing devices, for example, could also have a huge impact.



Improved operational performance and reduced costs

Keeping sustainability criteria firmly in mind when making business decisions is much more economical and beneficial for telecommunications companies than simply ignoring the problem. In the long term, it could save 70% in consumption per Gigabyte of energy required, according to data from BCG Global. What’s more, companies that are committed to sustainability can operate much more efficiently. Consultancy firm McKinsey & Company estimated in a recent report that integrating sustainable practices into corporate operations can boost turnover by up to 11% annually, compared to those that don’t.



Positive reputational impact

Of course, any stakeholder operating within the telecommunications ecosystem that adopts sustainability criteria will see an immediate improvement in their reputational KPIs. From the general public and competitors to shareholders and even stakeholders in other markets, everyone will be able to see how committing to a more sustainable way of working forms part of a long-term strategy that doesn’t just focus on making profits, but also on the impact of business operations on the world and its inhabitants. It’s not just about getting a pat on the back anymore. A good reputation can be reflected on the balance sheet.



Renewables also address the technological transition towards efficient sustainability

The worlds of sustainability and technology – and particularly telecommunications – are closely connected, almost as if they were one. Shifts at one end demand practically identical movement at the other. That’s why renewable energies must be seen by telecom firms as allies when it comes to improving efficiency, management and operations.


Designing, deploying and delivering technological infrastructure that delivers clean energy precisely where it’s needed is part of the future challenges facing the green energy industry. As is large-scale storage. But in both cases, ICT and connectivity will play an enormous role in helping to advance our technological transition, where sustainability must be the big winner.

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