How can open ecosystems pave a greener path for telcos

Sustainability is a hot topic for any business right now. We all know that businesses will have more of an impact than individuals in the fight against the climate crisis, and the larger the company the more work they’ll have to do.

For telcos it’s particularly high on the agenda. With nationwide networks and indirect emissions extending into almost every home and business, the telco industry is an especially energy-hungry one with plenty of ambitious targets to meet. But what exactly can telcos do to be sure their sustainability efforts are making the biggest difference possible?

The pressure of accountability 

The pressure for telcos to think even harder about their sustainability goals is coming from all sides. For starters, regulations like the European Green Deal are tightening accountability for companies and ensuring they prioritise the planet as well as profit.

Meanwhile on the commercial side, more and more consumers are shopping around for services with a strong eco focus. They’re savvy about the impact a company makes on the environment, and are willing to pay more if that’s what it takes to buy products that align with their personal values. As a result, leading telcos like Vodafone, Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom are  enshrining sustainability in their wider business purpose.

Naturally, the lion’s share of the focus is often on the big ticket items, like modernising infrastructure to make the network more efficient. For example, a report in April 2022 by API Research found that optimising hardware could reduce the power consumption of 5G networks by up to 70%.

But major overhauls aren’t the only ways for telcos to tackle their environmental impact. Scope 3 carbon emissions like the energy costs of servers or customer broadband routers often get overlooked, despite providing plenty of opportunity for telcos to make their entire ecosystem greener.

The power of partnerships 

With costs soaring and budgets shrinking, it’s easy for major green projects like infrastructure to end up on the back burner. But against the climate crisis, businesses can’t afford to put all of their  efforts on hold. One way to keep on making a difference is taking a look at what vendors or partners are already making an impact on their carbon footprint, and seeing how you can work together to make a bigger impact together.

We recently partnered with  ImageEngine, a content delivery network (CDN) that helps websites load faster by optimising the images on them. ImageEngine automatically checks what device a website is being loaded on and serves up the best size and format of image for that device.

By integrating ImageEngine into the BaseKit Platform, we can help BaseKit sites shrink their image payload by up to 90%, meaning they load faster for users and rank higher in SEO as a result. But it also means we’re helping to reduce our downstream emissions.

The faster a site loads its images, the less bandwidth it needs – and as a result, the lower the energy consumption for the data centre behind it. Since launching the partnership, it’s already helped reduce average image carbon emissions by 90% for the partners we’ve rolled out to.

Open ecosystems for bigger impact 

The telecom industry as a whole is already making great strides in lowering their climate impact and making networks more energy efficient. The next step now is to take that commitment even further, and begin improving sustainability at every link in your ecosystem.

Part of that will mean being more discerning about your partners and vendors, and how well they fit with your purpose. What does their sustainability strategy look like? More importantly, what progress have they already made towards those goals? Holding your entire ecosystem accountable means your efforts to reduce your company’s environmental footprint will go much further.

But it will also mean embracing more  open ecosystems, particularly where tech is concerned. By collaborating more closely with technology companies, you can work together on finding solutions that you can’t by yourself. Not only is that better for the environment, but it also helps build better and more intuitive systems for the consumers and small businesses you serve.

These ecosystems are already taking hold in the telecoms sector, thanks to projects like Open RAN, which unlocks mobile network operators to work with multiple vendors instead of a single supplier. By opening the system up, those operators are able to work with more diverse, specialist suppliers, and also drill down on gains like energy efficiency within each piece of the puzzle.

We’re on a mission to make tech a force for good for people, small businesses and the planet – are you in? Request a demo of our software, or get in touch to see how we could collaborate.

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