Is Telco Sustainability a Thing?

By Stefania Viscusi January 04, 2023

Telcos today are faced with pressure from the global community to reduce their energy consumption and waste. Along with this demand comes the need to make massive investments in new spectrum and infrastructure. But how can telcos manage helping to achieve climate-related targets and investing in energy-draining technologies?

This fight is an important one. According to research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), “If left unmanaged, the telecoms industry could be responsible for up to 14% of global CO2 emissions by 2040.”

A new whitepaper from ABI Research (News - Alert) shows that sustainability initiatives in the telecoms industry can be a win-win proposition with the right approach. "Telco Sustainability Reality Check" examines the opportunities and challenges of telco sustainability initiatives and ways we can make sure that breakthroughs in network reliability and AI-enabled energy efficiency solutions are mutually beneficial.

According to the report, the need to understand all sides of the issue and reaching a middle ground for both sustainability and innovation is key.

Some of the ways operators can begin to reduce carbon emissions and optimize energy include the addition of renewable energy to power their networks, using AI-enabled technologies to look for cost and performance savings, and retiring older and less energy-efficient networks.

"Sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive. However, there are a few reality checks to note,” explains Kim Johnson, Sustainable Technologies Principal Analyst at ABI Research. "The bottom line is that efforts can be made to drive mobile industry innovation and conserve resources at the same time.”

What’s needed is for the industry to understand the opportunities and challenges, and to leverage that understanding to develop informed, actionable plans to move the industry forward in terms of sustainability. Overall, while there are challenges and tension, the outlook for sustainable telcos is generally positive as net-zero initiatives continue to build momentum.

Edited by Alex Passett
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