Guest Blog: Delivering a More Sustainable and Less Carbon Intensive Future

As techUK examines the benefits of moving from ‘Good to Great’ connectivity, we look here at how this will deliver a more sustainable and less carbon intensive future.

The ‘it’s what you do with it’ cliché is overwhelmingly applicable to broadband and its enabling features have and will be discussed in length throughout this week, but it is also right to look at how it will help the environment.

On the business front, companies are replacing power hungry servers on premises to move business critical things like emails, invoicing, customer management and more into the cloud, meaning less energy is used (and money spent). Broadband is also helping change working practices. Conferencing, VoIP and file-sharing are not possible without good broadband connections and prevents unnecessary journeys and allows people to effectively work from home. This means less emissions from business travel and commuting. In the home, there are less trips to the shops, fewer pieces of paper floating around and more entertainment options in the home.

Nationwide, a Government report estimated that by 2023, there would be 2.3 billion kilometres less commuting travel and 5.3 billion kilometres in reduced business travel, 9% of the UK wide total[1]. They further estimate a saving of 1 billion kw/h due to cloud adoption and businesses can look at how going to the cloud will reduce their energy use by going to the GESI cloud calculator. A BT study of one of their county-wide rollout projects estimated a 25 times carbon abatement of 25 from superfast[2] and the Superfast Cornwall project would generate a total saving of nearly 600,000 tonnes of CO2e by 2020.

This is happening now, but the benefits will grow immensely as the UK moves to a full-fibre and 5G future. As new technologies and services come online, there will be (by both accident and design) significant environmental benefits. Connected and autonomous vehicles will require high speed mobile connectivity to work and are probably the most captivating example of connectivity enabled transformation. The opportunity presented by this tech is as great as the invention of the motor car itself and will use vastly less carbon as they can plan optimal journeys, eliminate ‘stop start’ driving, reduce congestion and revolutionise vehicle design and fuel types.

Great connectivity will also enable a smarter society and finally deliver the long-awaited ‘Internet of Things’. Smart metres and smart appliances help people actively monitor and manage their energy usage and that of intensive appliances like washing machines. To work they need to be 1) online and 2) be able to upload data to data centres, therefore require the better upload speeds provided by fibre broadband.

Moving from good to great connectivity is something that we should all get behind for reasons you will hear throughout this week, however it is also important to think things in the whole and as the next stage of broadband will make society smarter, more efficient, more optimised and better, we should not underestimate the environmental benefits too.

[1] UK Broadband Impact Study, 2013 

[2] BT Case Study 

Guest blog by Craig Melson, Programme Manager, Environment and Compliance for techUK for techUK's "Good to Great Connectivity for the UK" Week.

Get involved at #ConnectedFuture. More information is available on techUK’s Communications Infrastructure Programme.

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