European operator Orange says it is stepping up efforts to reduce energy consumption across Europe by deploying 5G.

Orange says it is on a mission to reduce stress on energy networks across Europe and it is doing this by deploying ‘the latest generation of equipment, in particular 5G’ which it says can save energy.

This is all part of the firm’s aim to becoming ‘net zero carbon’ (there are a few variations on this term flying about) by 2040, and we’re told that since IT and networks represent 85% of its energy requirements (the remaining 15% made up of buildings, shops and vehicles) to achieve this status’ energy efficiency in networks is key.’

It says deploying 5G as a key pillar to this, ‘which includes innovative energy-optimization features’ and its recent Green ITN program (it doesn’t elaborate on what that stands for) has led to savings in power usage recently via optimisation in IT and network, and more efficient datacenters. It claims ‘the latest free cooling technologies’ have led to 30% lower electricity usage.

We’re told Orange has also set up mobile network sharing agreements between operators in Belgium, Poland and Spain, which also apparently yields savings in energy use ‘while optimizing the use of network equipment by avoiding duplication and reducing maintenance costs.’ Between 2019 to 2022, it says this program has led to energy savings ‘equivalent to 19% of total IT and network consumption in Europe.’

While it’s on a roll, the firm will also have you know it is also cutting the amount of energy used in its offices by reducing the minimum ambient temperature to 19°C, workspaces have been ‘optimised’ as staff work more often from home (which doesn’t mean staff use no energy, but its off Orange’s ledger). It has also made a ‘Europe-wide commitment’ to switch off the lights in shop windows earlier.

“With a solid baseline in energy efficiency actions, we will reinforce our ambitions in reducing energy consumption while also continuing to provide top connectivity to our customers,” said Marie-Noelle Jégo-Laveissière, Deputy CEO. “In today’s increasingly digital word, our networks and services have become a critical element of our society and economies. However, we also believe that we have a duty to minimize our impact on the planet. We are determined to continue to find creative ways to improve our energy consumption efficiency and encourage sobriety, while ensuring the resilience of our network and sites”.

There have been a few announcements recently which appear to be trying to make the case 5G is, in fact, some sort of green tech and installing more of it will help corporations with their various environmental pledges. Maybe there is some truth in that, but it’s not clear what Orange means here when it says ‘to improve the energy efficiency of its networks, the group is working to deploy the latest generation of equipment, in particular 5G’.

Leaving aside the fact that deploying 5G is supposed to be its business model, not a mechanism with which to reduce its carbon footprint, a resultant 30% drop in electricity usage seems significant. It should be noted, however, that once more details on how that is achieved are a bit sketchy. Either way, it’s possible we are seeing a new spin on 5G marketing emerging – ‘buy it to save the planet’.

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