Written by 

Sven Krueger

Head of Product Management & Sales

Undoubtedly, the internet, its connections and data are growing exponentially: 127 new devices connect to the internet every second. With increased connections and technological advancements, it is no wonder data networks accounted for around 1% of global electricity use in 2019. Sustainability has become a key focus for many industries due to climate change, and the telecommunications industry is adapting to ensure it is playing its part in reducing its energy footprint. Most major telcos are putting sustainability at the top of their agenda, with many aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050 and designing specific 2030 targets for emissions, waste and the share of renewable energy. 

However, as the telecommunications industry adapts to meet ambitious sustainability goals, next-generation network performance, reliability and longevity must be factored in. A balance must be struck between sustainability and high-quality network performance to ensure that infrastructure is sustainably fit for purpose. Identifying network equipment that is adaptable and energy efficient that will make a difference when creating and deploying telecommunication networks for the future. 

Smart decisions with the environment in mind
We support telecom equipment manufacturers and network operators by providing the smart solutions that help them to meet their sustainability targets. Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) solutions are just one example. By reusing existing fiber, capacity can be increased without the need to lay more cables, reducing the amount of cable that needs to be produced and the associated CO2 emissions, as well as reducing intrusive digging and saving precious materials and resources. With WDM solutions, manufacturers and operators can connect to growth via a more economic and timely option for network deployments. 

Keeping temperatures cool 
WDM transport networks can be realised as a so-called “active” or a “passive” WDM transport solution. In the classic “active” approach, the equipment which generates the data, such as a router, switch or radio head, is equipped with a “client transceiver”. This can only bridge a few meters to the nearby active transport system, receive the client signal, and appropriately convert it for the transmission network. This approach requires additional transceivers, consuming additional electrical energy and producing additional heat which requires additional cooling. All solutions with a power supply will generate heat, with a risk of malfunction if they get too hot. To keep machines operating at a safe temperature, cooling systems are required, that use additional energy. 

The “passive” transport approach eliminates this additional media conversion and therefore reduces the total energy consumption per transported bit by some 80%. Opting for a passive WDM over an active solution should be a key consideration in the journey towards meeting sustainability targets. 

Connecting today and beyond
Europe’s Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact pledges to make data centers carbon neutral by 2030 and highlights that performance and sustainability are achievable in parallel. Even in the face of predicted growth in data demand, sustainable action can be taken. Smart investments in connectivity components and devices that reduce energy consumption will allow for economical, ecological and efficient bandwidth expansion. If the telecommunications industry keeps sustainability at the top of its agenda when making business decisions, all companies can play their part towards a more sustainable future.