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Study: Environmental impact of FTTH 18 times lower than copper

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Study: Environmental impact of FTTH 18 times lower than copper

The environmental impact of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks is 18 times lower than that of copper networks, considering data traffic efficiency, power consumption of equipment and lifecycle assessment of network layers, according to a study.

The study, Connectivity solutions’ Life Cycle Assessment, was presented by Telefónica in the context of COP27 this week in Egypt.

According to the Spanish telecom group, which this week announced an issuance of green bonds, the study assessed different aspects in the chain of its own networks, from materials used in the manufacture of them to the end of their lifecycle.

Also, the power consumption at the client location, due to customer premises equipment, was also analyzed.

It equally took into account the impact of base stations for mobile access: towers, antennas, wires, energy consumption, support machinery (such as HVAC, batteries), as well as of the wiring network, including type of cables, submarine cables, support poles, etc. 

From a fixed network perspective, the main outcome in relative terms was that data traffic and access capacity of the fiber network results in significantly lower environmental impacts when compared to copper.

Specifically, FTTH impact per petabyte was found to be 18 times lower than copper, and five times less per access, said the study.

According to the study, the two major environmental impacts of copper take place at the switch sites and in the wire network. 

Telefónica plans to accelerate the rollout of FTTH connections and continue the shutdown of legacy fixed networks, with the decommissioning of all copper plants by 2025. 

“Thus, it is to be expected that the total environmental impact of copper technology will be progressively reduced until its disappearance,” the study reads.

The company also said that its bet on renewable sources for its operations has helped to further mitigate the impact of copper and fiber emissions.

In effect, in Brazil – its largest market outside Spain – Telefónica plans to have 85 distributed generation plants in operation next year, mostly solar, supplying around 90% of its low-voltage power demand. 

As of the end of September, the company had 42 renewable plants in operation.

Its Movistar Colombia unit has had a power purchase agreement with Sun Colombia since 2020. The contract involves buying renewable energy from the solar generation system at the Celta plant in capital Bogotá. 

In Venezuela, Movistar recently announced plans to supply six local telecom stations with renewable energy through the use of solar panels.

The first such stations are already up and running in Los Valles del Tuy, Miranda state.

The Telefónica study can be found here.

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