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The crucial role of optical products in achieving network sustainability

Optical network sustainability

Selecting the right optical products can help network operators achieve their sustainability goals (Credit: metamorworks/

Richard Moyes, Marketing, Intelligence & Development Director at Prysmian Group advises how selecting the right optical products can help network operators achieve their all-important sustainability goals.

In today’s environmentally aware society, the industries spared from the scrutiny surrounding eco-friendly practices are few and far between. 

The telecoms sector is no exception. In fact, there are arguably even more eyes on sustainable connectivity, particularly given the rate at which networks are expanding throughout the world. According to the most recent FTTH/B Global ranking, undertaken by the FTTH Councils Global Alliance, 22 countries have now achieved FTTH/B penetration rates higher than 50% and with many gigabit connectivity targets just around the corner, this number will only increase.

As these networks gradually cover more of the globe, it’s clear that their sustainability is not just a “nice-to-have,” it’s a necessity for ensuring the long-term health of our planet. Network operators and internet service providers (ISPs) have a key role to play, applying sustainable practices to how their networks are designed, built and maintained, including what goes into them.

This is important for many reasons, mainly surrounding environmental, social, and economic factors. The environmental impact of telecoms and datacom networks cannot be understated. From energy consumption to the disposal of electronic waste, the footprint of these networks can be substantial. Sustainable practices aim to minimise this impact, ensuring that the technology boom doesn't come at the expense of the environment.

Make the right optical technology choices for fibre optic networks

The choices made by network operators when it comes to network technology can make a real difference. One of the primary ways to enhance sustainability is through energy efficiency. Fortunately, fibre optic cables are known to consume less energy-per-kilowatt than alternative network technologies, and the passive nature of the associated optical components in an FTTH network help to reduce power consumption. This can not only decrease operational costs for operators but also contribute to a smaller carbon footprint, aligning with global efforts to combat climate change.

However, with the best will in the world, selecting these kinds of components will only go so far towards real network sustainability, and there is little point sourcing energy efficient technology if it is not built to last as long as your network itself. So, it’s important to select a supplier partner with a history of delivering high-quality network technology that can future-proof optical networks. It also makes financial and reputational sense to opt for quality, and the most sustainable thing an operator can do is avoid having to replace aspects of its network before time. Cable replacement, for example, could result in additional cost and emissions, but there are also the emissions from the physical process of digging a new cable trench to consider, not to mention the impact on nearby businesses and homes.    

When it comes to homes and businesses, there is also the customer to consider. If an aspect of a network fails, the customer could experience disruption of service, or even no service at all. The operator or their ISP would need then to quickly establish what the problem is and where it has occurred before they can even attempt to fix it - this is no mean feat, particularly when it comes to more complicated dense urban areas.

How Prysmian can help operators build sustainable networks

Enter Prysmian, as the world’s largest cable manufacturer we have 150 years of experience in delivering high-quality cable solutions to network operators. And it’s not just the cables. We can provide a one-stop-shop of connectivity solutions, including racks, joints, wall boxes, customer termination boxes and pre-connectorised products such as indoor, outdoor, CoEx and high-density products. Investing in high-quality, long-lasting equipment from a trusted supplier can reduce the need for frequent replacements, and minimise electronic waste generation. 

Our operator customers can also rest assured that we put our money where our mouth is when it comes to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) commitments. In fact, we have recently been recognised in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World), reaching excellence (100 points) in the environmental areas of Emissions, Resource Efficiency and Circularity, Waste, and Water, within the ELQ Electrical Components & Equipment sector. We can make cables using recycled materials and we can make them smaller, so they use less materials and require less space for installation so buildings can have a smaller footprint. 

What’s more, we have facilities in more than 50 countries, with 112 plants, 25 research and development centres, and approximately 30,000 employees. This global reach combined with a local mindset means that operators can more sustainably source optical network technology from within their own country. Plus, with our team engineers on the road every day, our customers have the added security that in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, they can trust us to be available to offer support whenever they need it.

Get in touch with Prysmian to find out how we can help you ensure that your network is robust, reliable and sustainable for years to come. 

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