A Green Look at Communication

Look at your smartphone or tablet. Look at the size of the screen. Consider the things that you can do with your handheld devices. You can make voice calls and video calls, you can stream Netflix and listen to music, you can browse the Internet and order goods from online shops. The more we use our devices, the more energy they consume, and the higher the energy demands, the more the need for longer lasting batteries and more frequent charging.

Consider, now, the network connection that your devices depend on. Consider the Wi-Fi router that consumes electricity. Consider the DSL, Fibre, or wireless network it connects to. All of the base stations consume energy. All of the exchanges consume energy.

Data transmission is very energy intensive. Green communications technology is therefore no longer just an idea, it’s essential. More efficient communication protocols are being developed continuously, that make more efficient use of existing wireless spectrum, for instance, or compresses high definition video more efficiently. All of this helps to transmit large volumes of data quicker, but that’s only one part of the green technological puzzle.

To power base stations, for instance, it helps if they themselves are as efficient as possible. They need to be upgraded with newer components that use less electricity and requires less cooling. It also helps if they can generate a large part of their energy through the use of solar panels.

The materials themselves need to become greener. Miniaturisation allows for fewer precious metals like gold to be used, for instance. The manufacturing process also needs to change in order to make far less use of toxic materials that cause harm to the environment. Electronics that are easy to recycle and reuse can also help improve the problem immeasurably because sooner or later we will run out of current materials.