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Interview with Jerker Berglund
Exclusive Interview with Jerker Berglund ahead of the Telco Energy & Infrastructure Efficiency event.
Jerker is the Founder and Management Consultant at Sustainable Approach. Sustainable Approach is a leading expert on network infrastructure consolidation through active RAN sharing. The company’s focus is on helping operators and vendors develop and implement cost efficient and sustainable strategies and solutions.
Jerker shares with us is thoughts on the most burning issues related to the telcos’ energy consumption and savings including: the areas where the biggest energy and cost savings can be made, the impact of the predicted increase in data consumption on telcos’ energy use and how to achieve to achieve the EU’s 2020 targets.
1. Does the energy message receive enough attention from the senior management?
The attention received from management is in my experience very much focused on the cost aspect. The bigger part energy consumption consumes of the OPEX budget, the more efforts will be made to find ways to reduce it. In that sense it is not different to any other cost item.
Regarding its impact on carbon emissions and the sustainability of the business, the interest from senior management is low in many cases. As long as cost targets are met, there are no strong incentives to reduce carbon footprint by further increasing efficiency and/or using renewable energy sources. In my view, pressure from governments, end users and other stakeholders needs to grow significantly before we will see a more significant change.
2. In your opinion, where can the biggest energy and cost savings be made?
The biggest savings are achieved by sharing infrastructure with other operators. Depending on the depth of sharing, reductions in energy consumption of 30% or more are possible following consolidation of two networks into a shared RAN (Radio Access Network), compared to the sum of the energy consumption in the two non shared networks. Acquisitions or mergers between operators have the same effect on the average consumption per subscriber.
3. Should operators apply a holistic approach to their infrastructure energy consumption or is it more cost efficient to focus on the most problematic elements of their infrastructure?
In my view, the need to reduce energy consumption is one of several drivers for upgrading and modernizing the network infrastructure. Energy consumption on its own will in most cases not be a sufficient driver for heavy CAPEX investments, at least in countries like Sweden where energy prices are still relatively low. The main drivers for modernization will continue to be the need to manage the end user experience when data traffic grows and to support new technology. It is therefore of key importance that energy efficiency is a key criteria when choosing solutions, technology and platforms for such modernization.
4. What do you think will be the impact of the predicted increase in data consumption on telcos’ energy use? What preparations are needed to tackle this challenge?
If nothing is done energy consumption will grow and consume a growing part of Operators’ OPEX budgets. To combat this, I believe Operators will look at different possibilities to reduce energy consumption by optimizing the efficiency in their existing infrastructures e.g. by using intelligent power shutdown and other features to secure energy is not wasted during low traffic hours. Providing that the network performance is not compromised of course.
The next step is a major modernization with a swap to more energy smart solutions and efficient equipment. To manage the investment needed, Operators will become keener to look at alternatives business models such as infrastructure sharing.
5. In your opinion, will renewables be applied on the larger scale in the near future or is the investment payback time still too long?
As a result of the massive investments in renewables in Germany, the cost for solar cells in particular is decreasing quickly and we have now reached the point where investments in solar power have a comparable payback time to traditional alternatives without subsidies. However, the success of renewables on European level I believe is highly dependant on creating better incentives for producers and tightening the EU emissions trading system.