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Fiber for a sustainable broadband future

Fiber for a sustainable broadband future

When you think of the causes of global warming, you tend to picture cars, factory smoke, and power stations. The Internet is probably not the first thing that jumps to mind, but telecom requires data centers full of high-tech electronics and thousands of kilometers of cables with active network equipment, all produced in factories and all requiring power too.

Fig. 1.

At Nokia we’re absolutely committed to build a sustainable Gigabit world for all. For many years, we’ve been working on reducing the environmental impact of our broadband products and the energy they consume when used by our customers, and to extend the environmental advantages of broadband to as many people as possible. We call this approach Broadband Zero: we use our innovation power to ensure zero communities are excluded from broadband; in which zero people are left behind; and in which we aim for zero waste.

Building fiber networks is as important as the roads built centuries ago.

The very word “sustainability” emphasizes the durable and long-lasting. It explains the interest that operators have in fiber, as foundation for a robust network infrastructure that can cope with future demands in a sustainable way.

Fiber is a significantly more climate friendly technology than other types of fixed broadband as well as being more cost- and power-efficient to operate. Future-proof scalability and higher capacity make full-fiber networks the most energy efficient solution. XGS-PON consumes twice the energy but delivers 4x the speed of GPON in a FTTH network, making FTTH XGS-PON the most power efficient broadband technology available today.

Most operators are in the process of upgrading older copper and cable networks to deep fiber or full fiber-to-the-home networks. The shift to fiber technology ensured that the explosion in demand for data has not led to a massive increase in emissions; emissions have actually decreased in recent years. Overall, since 2007, the home broadband power consumption has been reduced by 38% while speeds have increased by a factor of 64.

This is good news for the future as fiber becomes increasingly indispensable to our broadband needs. It helps deliver mass-market residential services, enterprise services and robust fiber transport for 4G and 5G cell sites.

Fiber is clearly the green technology for the future. FTTH combines the lowest energy requirements with the best broadband performance, superior scalability and bandwidth evolutions to 25G, 50G and beyond. Customers get a better experience (bandwidth, latency, etc.) and operators get higher reliability, lower OPEX, and reduce their carbon footprint.

Power-saving technology innovations

But let me be clear: Nokia’s responsibility does not stop here.

We’re conscious that fiber networks still need considerable energy to operate and we must be relentless in our efforts to decouple the increasing energy consumption from the future traffic growth. Therefore, we invest heavily in power-saving innovations to reduce this impact.

One example is with our in-house developed Quillion chipset. Quillion allows us to build power-optimized line cards for fiber and copper broadband with higher port density, integrated energy-saving features and higher throughput per watt. Quillion puts us years ahead in power efficiency and reduces the power consumption for operators by more than 50% for operating passive optical network products, easily beating the targets set by the Code of Conducts for Broadband Communication Equipment. Quillion includes advanced features such as powering down unused optics (saving up to 1.5W for GPON optics) and improved intelligent fan tray control algorithms to reduce energy consumption and cooling when not required.

We’re determined to keep driving best-in-class sustainability practices in everything we do. With each generation of our fiber solutions, we’re helping increase capacity while reducing energy per bit, and helping more people benefit from the economic and environmental benefits of fiber broadband.

Geert Heyninck

About Geert Heyninck

Geert leads the Broadband Business Unit at Nokia, cooking up innovations across all our copper and fiber broadband solutions. He has a nose for this kind of thing, thanks to more than 25 years’ experience in telecoms. Coincidentally, 25 years is the kind of age he likes his Burgundy: food and wine are two more of his passions.

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