LIVE FROM MWL UNWRAPPED: Telia’s chief external affairs, governance and trust officer argued the perceived increase in energy use resulting from 5G was being offset by the positive impact modern networks were having in transforming industries and ultimately helping to significantly reduce emissions across the board.

Rachel Samren said in today’s keynote on sustainability that the negative effects of more energy use from 5G was the lesser element of Telia’s efforts in the area, pointing out it was actually reducing emissions as a whole by stripping-out its legacy networks.

Bigger than that, Samren said the future lay in how 5G could contribute to the “enablement factor”, bringing to the fore a number of solutions “that really help other industries significantly reduce their emissions and also, to some degree, become safer”.

She pointed to one particular example of the operator’s work with mining companies and how it was enabling heavy industry automation, which is having a major knock-on effect to the amount of energy used.

The Telia executive explained one mining company was able to automate a large part of its operations through 5G, meaning safety workers didn’t even need to physically be in the mines.

“It’s really the enablement effect where people don’t necessarily think of 5G,” she said.

To that point, Samren insisted operators also had a dual-role to play in sustainability efforts, meaning the industry not only took responsibility for its own footprint, but also helped other industries with their emissions reductions.

However, she added operators cannot tackle the problem alone: “I think the challenge we have as a sector is that we are of course tremendously dependent on supply chains, and what they do…we won’t get there on our own.”

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