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Worldwide electricity consumption of communication networks

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There is a growing research interest in improving the energy efficiency of communication networks. In order to assess the impact of introducing new energy efficient technologies, an up-to-date estimate for the global electricity consumption in communication networks is needed. In this paper we consider the use phase electricity consumption of telecom operator networks, office networks and customer premises equipment. Our results show that the network electricity consumption is growing fast, at a rate of 10 % per year, and its relative contribution to the total worldwide electricity consumption has increased from 1.3% in 2007 to 1.8% in 2012. We estimate the worldwide electricity consumption of communication networks will exceed 350 TWh in 2012.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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Figures (3)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1 Operator sample selection for 2011: (a) number of subscriptions worlwide, (b) in the unscaled sample and (c) in the representative sample. The percentages are obtained by dividing the number of subscriptions per service in both samples by the worldwide number of subscriptions.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2 Worldwide electricity consumption in telecom operator networks (columns, left axis) and sample representativity (markers, right axis).
Fig. 3
Fig. 3 Worldwide use phase electricity consumption of communication networks (columns, left axis) and share of networks in total worldwide electricity consumption (dotted line, right axis).

Tables (5)

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Table 1 Worldwide subscriptions (in millions). Sources: [13, 14]. Numbers for 2012 are extrapolations.

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Table 2 Office networks: cooling overhead factors and worldwide electricity use per type of equipment (electricity use estimates are adaptations of the values in [11]).

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Table 3 Calculation of the office network power consumption per computer based on our results, compared with values from [17].

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Table 4 Customer premises equipment: average power consumption per user, numbers of users and worldwide annual electricity use.

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Table 5 Estimates of network power consumption from previous studies [6, 7, 9, 10, 25]. Values between brackets are converted: for the Smart 2020 report the use phase CO2 values are converted assuming 500 gCO2/kWh, Kilper and Baliga’s power per user values are multiplied with our worldwide subscription numbers.

Equations (4)

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Maximize M S ( w ) = i = 1 n ( w i × m i )
subject to M S ( w ) M W = B S ( w ) B W = T S ( w ) T W
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P W = M W M S ( w ) × P S ( w ) = M W M S ( w ) × i = 1 n ( w i × p i )
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