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Telcos Embrace Sustainability as Consumers Demand Green Networks

Shenzhen, China – In response to growing consumer and business demand for environmentally friendly solutions, telecommunications operators worldwide are adopting sustainable practices to create greener networks. According to Emanuel Kolta, Senior Analyst at GSMA Intelligence (GSMAi), sustainability is no longer just a marketing term in the industry; it presents a significant opportunity for operators to increase revenues, reduce costs, and attract new customers from the enterprise sector.

Kolta, the lead analyst of a three-part GSMAi study on the business implications of sustainability in the telecom industry, shared his insights in a recent episode of Transform Talks, a video interview series featuring industry thought leaders produced by Huawei.

Telecom operators are taking various steps to make their operations more sustainable. These include implementing programs that allow consumers to return their devices to be repurposed and reducing electronic waste. Operators are also prioritizing the use of the latest energy-efficient equipment in their networks.

Data from the GSMAi study, conducted in collaboration with Huawei, reveals that 60% of survey respondents across 16 countries consider climate and sustainability criteria when purchasing telecom products. The study indicates that green purchasing preferences are particularly strong in high-growth emerging economies, such as the Philippines, Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan, and Indonesia, where the impacts of climate change are more directly felt.

Another industry expert, Martin Creaner, Director General of the World Broadband Association, highlights the sustainability advantages of optical fiber, describing it as “probably the most sustainable form of connectivity.” He notes that fiber is approximately 80% more efficient than copper and offers better efficiency than 5G technology. The long-lasting nature of fiber, requiring fewer repairs and less energy for operation, contributes to its sustainability.

Creaner emphasizes that successive generations of mobile technology have become more energy-efficient per user per megabit. However, as data traffic continues to surge, the absolute quantity of data transmitted over networks is increasing. To address this challenge, Creaner suggests a combination of incentives and penalties. The “carrot” is the opportunity for telcos to reduce costs and grow revenue by adopting sustainable practices. The “stick” refers to the fear that telcos may face de-selection as suppliers by enterprises and a shift in consumer preferences towards companies with stronger sustainability credentials.

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