At the recent event, NetworkX Paris, many topics were covered, including insights into the broadband industry, Wi-Fi evolution and Fiber-to-the-Home’s status. Although not a central focus at the event, sustainability is gaining momentum with importance throughout the value chain. Maarten Egmond, CTO of Genexis, shares his reflections on the crucial role of sustainability in a modern network ecosystem.
Rethinking powering Wi-Fi in homes
According to Wi-Fi Alliance, the global economic value of Wi-Fi is expected to reach 5 trillion USD by 2025 and billions of devices are shipped each year. Many of these devices end up in consumer homes, including routers, gateways and connected devices. These are not just limited to the usual mobile phones, tablets and laptops but increasingly include everything from lightbulbs to security cameras to refrigerators, enabling smart homes. As the number of devices connected to Wi-Fi networks grows, this collectively contributes to increased power consumption.
Wi-Fi was never originally conceived with low power in mind, and up to Wi-Fi 7, there has been limited focus on this topic. The groundwork is starting now for Wi-Fi 8, including a focus on improving power consumption. This shows that the urgency to reduce environmental impact is higher than ever. But we cannot wait and need to be innovative on top of existing standards to reduce power consumption while at the same time avoiding impact on the user experience.
Therefore, it was interesting to see that the focus on sustainability at the event was limited. While everyone agrees it’s a critical topic, there is a struggle to define clear selection criteria that actually make a difference rather than just ‘checkboxing’ sustainability.
EU Code of Conduct for the energy consumption of broadband equipment
Following the Code of Conduct on energy consumption is a good starting point to help Communications Service Providers (CSPs) minimize their carbon footprint. The objective of the Code is to establish voluntary limits on power consumption to stimulate energy-efficient design, manufacturing, and usage of broadband equipment, including modems, routers, and other networking devices. Genexis is a signatory of the Code of Conduct and actively participates in meetings to set these standards.
However, this approach has limitations and vendors can optimize further than what the Code of Conduct requires. An additional step for CSPs is to review and compare vendors’ specific power consumption according to the Code’s measurement method. As power consumption is a major contributor to the climate footprint of broadband equipment, this will show the real impact that selecting different products can have. This way, the Code can play a valuable part in the sustainable selection criteria for requests for proposals.
As an industry leader in sustainability, Genexis actively participates in an industry-wide collaboration aimed at standardizing the measurement of sustainability criteria in equipment. By establishing agreed-upon Product Creation Rules that can be used in Environmental Product Declarations across the board, we are not just setting the stage but also empowering buyers (e.g., CSPs) to make fair comparisons based on sustainability criteria, such as power consumption.
Overall, sustainability is becoming a critical aspect of our industry, and CSPs are already aware that they must address it. But they can only do it with their partners in the value chain. Genexis has been on its own sustainability journey for some time and is a committed partner for CSPs to develop energy-efficient and eco-friendly broadband solutions. In the future, let’s give sustainability a more prominent focus in industry events like NetworkX. At Genexis, we are already leading by setting an example, but let’s see others join the conversation and take action.
Read more in our other sustainability blogs.
Author: Mr. Maarten Egmond