This blog post was co-authored by Jillian Kaplan.
Hockey’s all-time goals leader, Wayne Gretzky, once explained his success by saying, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.” In looking at the telecommunications industry’s ambitious sustainability goals over the next 10 to 20 years, we could definitely use an assist from someone like Mr. Gretzky. Most enterprises and communications service providers (CSPs) have set goals of achieving (and sustaining) net zero operations—that is, eliminating as many greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as they produce directly and through their supply chains—within the next five to 25 years. It’s an ambitious goal and a commendable one.
Dell Technologies has pledged to move 100% of its energy consumption to renewable sources by 2040 and achieve net zero operations by 2050. And we want to help our customers and partners do the same. Now, that begs the question: How exactly do companies plan to eliminate GHG emissions over the next 20 years? We partnered with GSMA Intelligence to get an in-depth view of what CSPs and enterprises are focused on to achieve their sustainability goals. As part of the study, we reached out to operators and asked this and other energy-related questions, and we’re using their answers to be better prepared to help them achieve their goals.
Skating to Success
We know sustainability is a priority for us at Dell Technologies, but what about our customers and partners? We spoke to 100 CSPs from around the world, and 97% told us they had net zero goals in place or are planning to set them. We asked how they plan to achieve these goals, and most see transitioning to renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency in direct operations as the top two ways to do so.
We know 5G and, eventually 6G, are in play, so it’s logical to look at them for energy savings. 5G is more efficient than LTE, but power demands are higher because network traffic continues to increase. We also know network traffic— which today is pretty evenly split between the near edge, far edge, device and cloud, and we expect data traffic, especially cellular data traffic, to rise significantly in the future, meaning thousands of exabytes to process. Based on these findings, we can infer that thinking about edge and cloud sustainability will be a large part of helping the industry achieve net zero goals, which based on our survey, 97% of telecom operators plan to have.
Sharpening the Blades
Dell’s current PowerEdge.Next servers are purpose-built for telecom and edge deployments and more efficient than ever before. Combining thermal design with multi-vector and liquid cooling enables huge energy efficiencies. After all, every watt saved is a watt you don’t have to cool. We also know achieving energy efficiency at the edge can be more challenging than doing the same in traditional data centers, and we are very focused on solving those jointly with our CSP customers. Moving beyond the edge, RAN consumes the most energy in the mobile network, and as we disaggregate and open the RAN, the field is ripe for innovation and disruption to accelerate achieving the net zero goals. This collaboration in both RAN and edge architectures aims not only to build a sustainable infrastructure but also to allow CSPs to help their enterprise customers do the same.
At Dell Technologies we know where the puck is going, and we believe the only path forward is to meet our net zero goals and help our telecom customers and partners do the same. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, and by doing this research to develop solutions, we can lead the future of net-zero networks.
The full GSMA Intelligence report can be found here. In our next two blogs around this research, we will do a deeper dive into both edge and RAN separately to fully cover various parts of the network.