Energy consumption and costs for telecommunications operators have always been high and are expected to continue to increase. This growth is primarily the result of the exponential increase in traffic demands and consumer broadband needs.
Reducing costs should be an obvious objective for telecom operators. However, reducing emissions from increased energy consumption is also becoming a core mission for many. The impact of not being seen as an environmentally conscious organization includes the possibility of tighter regulation, the inability to offset emissions with expensive carbon credits, and the changing appetite of institutional investors to invest. focusing on greener businesses might make it difficult for businesses that are not “green” to be successful.
The fiber is GREEN
The Green House Gas (GHG) protocol published by the CDP classifies a company’s GHG emissions into three Scopes – 1, 2 and 3. Scopes 1 and 2 emissions generally represent between 15 and 30% of the total emissions attributed to an organization and account for approximately 5% of an operator’s overall operating expenses. However, this figure can reach 15% for operators focused on mobile services, which consume more energy.
Scope 2 broadcasts are under the control of an organization. They will therefore be expected to be vetted, monitored and prioritized before other emissions. A large part of Scope 2 emissions comes from purchased energy production used to supply access and aggregation networks. Scope 2’s ability to reduce emissions depends entirely on the energy efficiency and emissions of these networks.
Fiber-based solutions, compared to copper and HFC-based solutions, are best suited to meet the increasing bandwidth needs of consumers. However, they also consume the least energy and have a much lower carbon footprint in released emissions.
In a recent study, Prysmian compared energy consumption at the access network level using VDSL2 Vectoring, Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial (HFC) and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) technologies. The study showed that the power consumption of HFC and VDSL2 vectorized access networks is 7.5 times that of the FTTH Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) access network.
Even among PON technologies, there is a significant variation in the amount of energy consumed. For example, combo PON, an integrated solution that allows operators to launch GPON and XGS-PON simultaneously from a single active port, is 50% greener than a disaggregated GPON and XGS-PON comparison solution.
Combine the best of all worlds with open and disaggregated solutions
The telecommunications industry faces a significant struggle to become a green business with an existing product footprint. Replacing an entire network each time a new, greener product hits the market quickly results in expensive overheads. It’s time to make the transition from a typical architecture to a new one that allows for consistent improvement in an efficient and manageable way.
Rather than replacing an entire network, the path to greener connectivity looks like a reinvented wallet that breaks up a solution into different components, thereby reducing the strong interdependence between network elements.
Traditional chassis-based systems are constrained by a monolithic architecture that prevents the adoption of energy efficient chipsets. Many are still blocked using 45nm technology. In comparison, disaggregated systems exploit low power consumption technologies with 28nm and 16nm chipset technology. Despite the headwinds that Moore’s Law faces, significant efficiency gains are available in future chipsets. With every technological leap, we see an increase in energy savings. What operators need is an architecture flexible enough to take advantage of power efficient chipsets.
Modern hardware platforms designed around open and disaggregated architectures are specifically designed using smart, energy efficient components to help improve overall power consumption per megabit despite increasing demands for Fiber-to-technology. the-Premises (FTTP). With Ethernet as the only piece of network interdependence, advances in chipset and transceiver can be quickly integrated to meet efficiency goals. In this modern structure, a network can be upgraded independently as more efficient greener solutions become available.
For telecom operators, investing in low cost, low emissions technology should be an obvious choice. While there are many levers for lowering energy costs and reducing the carbon footprint, the one that offers long-term, sustainable benefits to telecom operators is structural and architectural transformation. It starts with operators deploying as much of their network as possible with FTTH-based PON solutions. Telecom operators should also consider moving beyond the limitations and dependencies of a monolithic architecture and moving to modern disaggregated solutions that offer more energy efficient deployment models.