Contribution of fibre to sustainability

Mandating the use of full-fibre networks is the most straightforward way to achieve the objective of carbon neutrality as set in the European Green Deal. There is no dispute that high speed, reliable broadband connectivity is an essential utility for modern life and it is clear that full-fibre requires the lowest energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions while also enabling the best reliability and scalability.

Several studies1 compared the sustainability aspect (energy consumption and CO2 emissions) of traditional copper or coaxial cable-based technologies with full fibre networks at different speeds and capacity rates. It was found that FTTH technologies are more sustainable than FTTC networks in every scenario and for almost every capacity rate and that they are more favourable in terms of power consumption.

The studies also revealed that FTTH networks are far more reliable than copper-based alternatives as the absence of active equipment in the outside plant of FTTH networks eliminates the possibility of service disruptions due to power outages or active equipment failure. Less service disruption and more reliability require fewer field support staff and less travel to network locations to carry out maintenance, resulting in reduced energy-emissions.

Full fibre networks are the only ones that can cope with future data rate requirements without a need to adapt or upgrade their primary passive infrastructure. Moreover, high quality fibre networks also increase energy efficiency of data transfers and storage and reduce energy consumption.

To summarize, Europe´s ability to combine the climate and digital transition depends on the quality and sustainability of its telecommunication infrastructure. Not only is full fibre the most future-proof technology which quality parameters are unmatched, but it is also the most energy-efficient technology.

To reap the benefits of digitalisation and to enable a more sustainable future, a strong and swift political commitment to full fibre technology is needed. This is indispensable to fully grasp the long-term energy-efficient opportunities offered by full fibre networks.  

[1] Study conducted by Prof. Dr. -Ing. Kristof Obermann from the University of Applied Sciences (Technische Hochschule) Mittelhessen from BREKO in May 2020 https://brekoverband.de/gutachten-nachhaltigkeitsvergleich-von-ftth-und-fttc

Study conducted by Prof. Dr. Ing Stephan Breide, Sebastian Helleberg M. Eng i.Hs FH for Prysmian in December 2017 https://www.prysmiangroup.com/staticres/energy-consumption-whitepaper/8/index.html

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