Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Energy Efficient Communication Networks: What’s Sprint’s Energy Bill?

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When we think of making IT equipment more energy efficient, the conversation is usually around data centers, and sometimes behavioral changes like turning off computers at night.

However, communication networks also use a great deal of energy, as described the Guest Editors of a Feature Topic in IEEE Communications Magazine:

Recently, it has been reported that energy costs can account for as much as half of a mobile service provider’s annual operating expenses.

If the aggregate energy consumption of networking devices were to follow the growth trajectories of Internet traffic (i.e., about 50 percent per year), the environmental and financial consequences would be dire.

Thus, making information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and applications energy-efficient could not only have a tangible positive impact on the environment, but also help telecommunications operators attain long-term profitability. Moreover, energy-efficient communications can help the world reduce its dependence on fossil fuel, enable demand response and distributed energy resources, and ultimately achieve sustainable prosperity.

The bottom line is: when thinking about the energy use of IT, determine materiality for the particular context from all forms of services resulting from the IT in use, including data storage, data processing, communication networks, and so forth.

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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