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Action Plans and Technologies To Reach Net Zero Target in Telecom Industry

Updated: Jun 6

GSMA Intelligence reports that telecom operators are accountable for approximately 490 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, or nearly 1% of the world's total carbon pollution in 2021. Considering newborn business requirements to ESG reporting and the fast-growing sustainability trend, for telecom companies, net zero means an excellent reputation, a broad network of partners, and opportunities for business scaling.

Net zero climate change does not mean eliminating all emissions completely, but it involves balancing the number of emissions produced with the amount removed from the atmosphere. Further in this article, you'll discover what strategies and technologies telco operators use to make the business eco-friendly.

Service providers (ISPs) have committed to net-zero but within different time frames

Telcos' Approaches to Reach Net-Zero Target

To reach the net zero target, telcos increasingly focus on sustainability principles. This involves:

  • reducing carbon footprint

  • using renewable energy sources

  • implementing sustainable business practices

The environmental impact the telecommunication industry has is significant. Telecom necessitates high energy usage and water cooling of servers regularly. Reducing its environmental influence is a priority for the industry, and it is taking steps to achieve a more sustainable future. The network operators, for instance, are expected to lower their carbon emissions by 62% and data centers by 53% between 2020 and 2035.



A few net-zero examples from world-trusted brands

Verizon is among the telcos working towards a sustainable future. It has set a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2035 and is implementing several initiatives to reach this target. Verizon has committed to sourcing 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and 60% by 2030. The company also invests in renewable energy projects like wind and solar power. It works to reduce the energy consumption of its operations, including the data centers, offices, and network infrastructure. It includes using more advanced equipment, optimizing cooling & heating systems, and preventing extra consumption in buildings.

Another example is T-Mobile, which aimed to reach 100% renewable energy by 2021. They have already achieved the target and are now working towards using 100% carbon-free power by 2025. The company is implementing other sustainable initiatives, such as lowering mobile device heating and cooling requirements.


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The Strategies Applied by Global Telco Companies to Make Business Eco-Friendly

Telcos have the aspiring power to influence other industries in decreasing the number of greenhouse gases. However, it is vital for operators to initiate carbon pollution diminishments themselves as they hold 4% of global CO2 pollution. Global telcos and local internet service providers are taking various strategies to make their businesses eco-friendly.

Energy saving

One of the most prevalent approaches is to enhance energy efficiency by lowering its usage in networks and data centers. Enterprises also embrace approaches, such as real-time energy analysis and renewable energy sources, when available.

Renewable resources energy

To meet the net zero target, telecom firms are shifting their operations to green energy sources, such as wind and solar power. To fulfill their sustainability objectives, they are taking part in renewable energy projects, acquiring renewable energy certificates, and contracting with renewable energy suppliers.

Economic circularity

Some businesses employ circular economy ideas to guarantee that their products and services are circular. This involves creating simple goods to repair, refurbish, and recycle. Organizations also collaborate with their vendors to decrease waste and enhance supply chain sustainability.

Collaborations

Telecom firms opt for counterparties with impeccable ESG reporting to minimize pollution in their supply chain. They collaborate with suppliers to enhance environmental responsibility and develop sustainability initiatives, such as the “Better Future Supplier Forum,” to exchange methodologies regarding environmental stewardship.

One real-life example of telcos implementing net zero climate change is AT&T. The company has established and successfully maintained its sustainability initiatives to reach carbon neutrality across its global operations by 2035.

“We are determined to make sure that we’re offering products and services that can quantifiably reduce emissions for our customers. I’m very proud of the fact that all the methodology that goes into those quantifications has been made public.”

Head of Global Environmental Sustainability, AT&T


AT&T has implemented various measures to reduce energy consumption in its networks and data centers. For example, it has optimized network performance through the use of software-defined networking and installed energy-efficient hardware. The company has:

  • invested in renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar power

  • signed agreements to purchase renewable energy from third-party providers

  • supported carbon offset projects, such as reforestation and renewable energy projects, to offset the emissions associated with its operations



The Technologies Used by Telcos to Follow the Sustainability Trends

Green Networks

Green network minimizes the use of energy and increases efficiency. To reach or surpass these emissions reduction targets, service providers have taken the lead in environmentalism and the usage of renewables. This trend will continue in the development of the 5G future and the net zero internet. Green Telecom Networks are being scrutinized as an area where eco-friendly solutions may be used as the globe attempts to develop cleaner sources of energy.

AI-Powered Optimization of Energy Consumption

5G spectrum bands use twice as much energy as 4G’s, with most energy wastage caused by the Radio Access Network (RAN). 5G’s newest RAN is equipped with an energy-saving measure that automatically switches components, preventing wastage. For instance, Ericsson’s AI-powered MIMO mode enhances node performance through automation.

Implementation of Virtualization Technology

Virtualization technology is used for the substitution of physical infrastructure. The innovation can make it easier to scale network resources up or down in response to demand, significantly optimizing energy use. For example, Telia Company has deployed a virtualized network architecture in their data centers, allowing them to cut energy usage and carbon emissions.



Summary

Telecom plays a key role in achieving the net zero target, which involves balancing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and removed from the atmosphere. It contributes to a more sustainable future, creates new business opportunities and drives innovation.

To make their businesses eco-friendly, telcos are employing a variety of strategies such as shifting their operations to green energy sources or taking part in renewable energy projects to broaden the net zero network. Additionally, they are employing circular economy ideas, creating products that are easy to repair, refurbish, and recycle, and partnering with “green” businesses to reduce pollution in their supply chain.

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