How can telecoms contribute to the global 'sustainability goals'?


Telcos’ Role in Sustainable Development

Telcos’ Role in Sustainable Development

How can telecoms contribute to the global 'sustainability goals'?

We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. The growing mandate for operators to reduce GHG emissions.
  2. 5G as an opportunity to drive sustainability
  3. STL’s commitment to the planet’s environment.

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?


Last year, the UN General Assembly President, in her opening speech warned us that there are only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from Climate Change. The effects of global warming and unsustainable practices have created serious doubts over the continued existence of mankind. Although the Telecom sector has historically remained outside the conversation of sustainable development, we see a growing mandate for operators to reduce GHG emissions and deliver a cleaner and greener telecom footprint.

Why Should the Telcos Care?

The pressure to improve its sustainable performance is not uncalled for. Currently, the sector consumes between 2 – 3% of global energy. However, by 2025, we expect 20 percent of world’s electricity to be consumed in creation and transportation of data. This shift is already happening –  global telecom sector experienced an increase in energy consumption of 30 percent and carbon emissions of 17 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Are 5G Standards the Solution?

The sector sees 5G as an opportunity to drive sustainability – 3GPP’s 5G specification calls for a 90 percent reduction in energy use – however, the jury is still out on just whether existing technologies will be able to deliver on this promise.

A primary tenet of a 5G eco-system is a shift towards an all-fiber network, away from legacy copper plants. This will be a significant move towards sustainability and reducing GHG emissions. To give a perspective, manufacturing a 200-foot length of copper wire produces around 1,000 kgCO2 e. Creating the equivalent length of fibre optic cable produces just 0.06 kgCO2 e, less than 0.01% of the emissions associated with copper.

The Time to Act is Now!

Taking care of our environment is urgent and we have to do it on many fronts. At STL, we take our commitment to our planet and our people seriously and as data network innovators, it is our primary objective to adopt and enable sustainable practices for our customers.

  • Fibre is 85% more efficient in terms of energy consumption per customer, compared to copper based access technologies. By improvement in precision manufacturing and deployment of data analytics to manufacturing process, STL has been further able to reduce its environmental footprint. Our cable manufacturing facilities are first in India to be “zero waste to landfill” certified, and we contribute positively to the circular economy.
  • While not all copper cables can be replaced by optic fiber, we are continuously looking at ways to reduce our dependence on non-renewable sources, especially plastics. Since long, industry has used plastic based cross-fillers to prevent cross-talk between twisted pairs of copper data cables. Our latest innovation in the field of green cabling completely eradicates the need for this filler, resulting in a leaner and greener design. In addition to preventing usage of plastic, our design also enables better air flow in tightly-packed ducts, improving air-flow and reducing overall power consumption in a data center environment
  • The way in which a telecommunications company operates and deploys its network also has an enormous influence on its energy and carbon emissions performance. By extending the geographic reach of fiber based access networks, our network design solutions help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to additional 50 percent.

At STL, we are marrying sustainability with business profitability, and are serious about ensuring that our business partners are equally invested in creating a sustainable future.


What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data. This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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Telcos’ Role in Sustainable Development

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