By Arafat Yousef, Managing Director – Middle East & Africa, Nexans Data Network Solutions
How smart hybrid in-building networks can help reduce CO2
Rise of the digital economy
The digital economy is growing fast. IDC has predicted that the digital economy will account for 60% of the world’s total economy by 2022. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that the digital economy makes up anywhere from 4.5% to 15.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP). In the US, home of several dominant players, the digital economy already accounted for 6.9 per cent GDP ($1.35 trillion) in 2017. In China, the digital economy accounted for a third of the nation’s GDP in 2018. In Europe, ‘digital’ is among the fastest-growing sectors and “a major contributor to economic prosperity”, according to E&Y. However, as the digital economy grows, so does consumption of energy and production of heat and CO2.
Hyperconnectivity and energy consumption
The digital economy is based on hyperconnectivity. More and more people, devices and organisations are interconnecting, driven by developments such as 5G, Cloud, Wi-Fi 6, Internet of Things (IoT) and more. In all of these areas, vast growth is predicted. According to IDC, some 212 billion IoT-enabled devices may be connected to the internet soon. Cisco predicts that by 2021, there will be 4.6bn Internet users worldwide and 271 billion connected devices. But as the number of devices, users, applications and networks grow, so will the global carbon footprint.
According to the European Commission, the ICT industry generates up to 2% of all global CO2 emissions. The journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research the installation and the operation of new ICT devices can be characterized as highly energy-intensive. A study carried out by the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (Gesso) and Deloitte shows that ICT can help solve a wide variety of sustainability challenges and climate change in particular. Big data, AI and intelligence built into devices and systems that consume power play an important part in this. Working from home facilitated by ICT, for example, reducing the need for travel. However, there is also a great deal to be gained by simply reducing the amount of power consumed by the devices, cabling and networks that provide the backbone for the digital economy. Furthermore, making sure systems can remain operational for as long as possible also reduces the burden on the environment.
Less energy usage and longer operational lifetime
One possible solution is the introduction of FibreTo The Office (FTTO) networks to connect devices throughout a building at Gigabit speeds. FTTO is a hybrid network consisting of fibre optic and twisted-pair copper patch cords with connectors. In an FTTO network environment, fibre is laid from the central distribution switch right into the office floor, where it ends inactive FTTO switches within the workplace.
FTTO networks require significantly less equipment, consume less energy and require less cooling. In a traditional copper-based Ethernet network with 1,000 ports, the annual electricity consumption is estimated to be 82k kWh. However, using an FTTO architecture, the same network would consume some 30k kWh per year. A fast, low latency, responsive FTTO network with PoE (Power over Ethernet) capacity also supports the introduction of smart building management systems, helping reduce energy consumption by optimizing lighting, air conditioning and heating usage.
The use of fibre also allows compliance with 802.3az Energy-Efficient Ethernet’ standard. This allows each port on the switch to power down into a standby mode when no connected devices are active. Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) ports consume power only when data is transferred.
Finding the right solution
FTTO architecture can reduce energy consumption by as much as 70% lower, cut total cost of ownership by 40%, and reduce installation time by 60%. What’s more, the added flexibility means networks can accommodate changes in building layout and function and cabling can stay support consecutive generations of equipment. As a result, it isn’t necessary to dispose of large volumes of cabling and equipment every few years. The exact type of solution and best configuration depends on the on-site conditions of different buildings – we are happy to help you make the smartest decisions!