FTTH Council Global Alliance Sustainability Survey

FTTH Council Global Alliance Sustainability Survey

Study shows majority of companies in the sector are working towards 40% reduction GHG emissions by 2030, targeting net zero by 2040.

FTTH Council Global Alliance global Sustainability Survey: exploring ESG and CSR strategies

The FTTH Council Global Alliance global Sustainability Survey explores ESG and CSR strategies across the telecom industry with network operators, service providers, and vendors across five geographical regions. Although some regions are more advanced than others, fibre’s sustainable properties will help the global telecom industry achieve ESG and CSR goals.

A Boston Consulting Group report states that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is responsible for 3% to 4% of all global emissions—twice the levels of the aviation industry. However, because fibre-based broadband consumes less energy than other broadband technologies, it can help the industry significantly reduce emissions. Several Sustainability Survey respondents listed converting from Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) to FTTH was cited as a way to improve sustainability programs. Furthermore, research by RVA, LLC and the Fiber Broadband Association reveals that FTTH directly reduces carbon output. The study, conducted late 2022, calculated that transferring all broadband households to fibre lines by 2030 would slash CO2 emissions by some 1.4 million metric tons annually: a 34% reduction in internet service-related carbon output for the industry.

According to the FTTH Council Global Alliance global Sustainability Survey, most companies are working on plans to achieve at least a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, with long-term goals of net zero by 2040. 81% of respondents in Europe already have an ESG / CSR strategy in place, followed by LATAM (45%), North America and MENA (both at 16%), and Asia Pacific (15%). Some Asia Pacific respondents indicated ambitious targets of net-zero by 2035 for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, a 60% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. A number of European respondents indicated they were evaluating or in the process of engaging with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to help define and promote best practices in emissions reductions.

NExsT asked Deborah Kish, VP, Research and Workforce Development, Fiber Broadband Association, whether the results were in line with her expectations.

“Absolutely,” Deborah replies. “I previously worked for Gartner, who have team(s) focusing on sustainability from a variety of angles, so I had already had an idea of what we might expect from this study. I knew the USA would be lagging Europe to some extent – but it’s still a little disappointing! I think the required awareness developed sooner in Europe for several reasons, for example because so many standards groups are active there. Also, we see major policy shifts in the USA each time a new administration comes into power. Fortunately, North America is now starting to adopt good practices such as pulling out copper and replacing it with fibre, and we’re seeing productive government discussions and mandates around fibre and sustainability. Today, many states are definitely on the ‘fibre first’ path. Although it’s a big step for the government to suggest replacing fibre with copper, they can stimulate this with the right incentives and support. Tax breaks are always warmly welcomed! What’s more, copper prices are high and there’s good money to be made by selling all the copper that has been dug up. That can make a difference to the business case.”

Deborah Kish

VP, Research and Workforce Development, Fiber Broadband Association

“Worldwide, there seems to be a shortage of trained professionals that can work on fibre rollouts. I think that the USA can make big strides by making the work attractive and offering workers financial stability, and healthcare and insurance benefits. That’s also a form of sustainable entrepreneurship that will certainly help speed up rollouts.”

“From an environmental perspective, I think we shouldn’t overlook the benefits of replacing large numbers of existing network devices with smaller numbers of more modern, efficient, smaller equipment. Service providers have been working on this for years now when we started to see software defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) replacing several of the components in the networks.  And of course, the more broadband availability there is, the easier it becomes to reduce time spent in traffic and go paperless! If large numbers of people change how they work and commute, we can really reduce carbon emissions. That does require a change in attitude from business owners. "

“In the weeks after the report was published, we received some questions, but nobody seemed to be surprised that the US has some catching up to do when it comes to sustainability. It'll be interesting to see where things stand a year from now or even six months from today. Hopefully our study can help jump start some important processes and changes that need to be made. Stay tuned!”     

About the FTTH Council Global Alliance

The FCGA is a group of six regional FTTH Councils with the common goal to accelerate fibre broadband adoption. The councils include the Digital Council Africa, Fiber Broadband Association, Fiber Broadband Association LATAM Chapter, Fiber Connect Council MENA, FTTH Council Asia Pacific, and FTTH Council Europe. The FCGA’s Sustainability Survey was conducted to understand the telecom industry’s commitment to sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies, where they are in terms of reaching their overall goals and milestones, and how these differ at the regional level.

Deborah Kish is the VP, research, and workforce development for the Fiber Broadband Association. She manages FBA’s research program and the FBA’s OpTIC Path Fiber optic technician training course and certification. Prior to the FBA, she spent over 20 years as an analyst at Gartner covering broadband, telecom switching, signaling and security topics advising thousands of service provider and vendor clients about product and service strategy.

Deborah Kish
VP, Research and Workforce Development, Fiber Broadband Association
Prysmian Group