The Sustainability Assessment: Telco Technology Suppliers by global technology intelligence firm ABI Research provides an unrivaled tool to identify partners best placed to help telcos drive sustainability initiatives as well as identify the best practice operations of suppliers that can be replicated. This unbiased examination of 81 telecommunications suppliers supporting telecommunication operator sustainability initiatives assesses vendors on sustainability criteria across nine categories, including 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (mMIMO) antennae, Open RAN hardware and software, on-site renewable energy solutions, free cooling systems, liquid cooling systems, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven software, antenna solutions, and 5G cloud-native platforms.
Sustainability initiatives were considered across two major dimensions; present-day implementation (the ability to scale impact), including the global rollout of 5G and market share of equipment, and forward-looking impact, evaluating the innovation of the technologies for reducing carbon emissions and waste, such as using next- generation silicon and integrating AI and Machine Learning (ML) to reduce the overall energy consumption of the equipment.
The results of the assessment highlight leaders in four different supplier groups:
- Traditional Network Equipment Vendors
- Non-traditional Network Equipment Vendors
- Chipset and Component Vendors
- Software Vendors
Across all the telco equipment categories, the leaders that demonstrated the most capabilities in their products and services for improving telecommunication operator’s sustainability are Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, Samsung, Intel, Qualcomm, NEC, Mavenir, Cisco, Fujitsu, Rakuten Symphony, CommScope, Dell, AMD, IBM (Red Hat), VMware, Airspan, Parallel Wireless, and Schneider Electric.
According to Kim Johnson, Sustainable Technologies Principal Analyst at ABI Research, “ABI Research offers this comprehensive research as a tool to help select sustainable partners in the telecom industry and to identify industry best practices. With the evolution of network virtualization and cloudification, the total number of telco equipment vendors is growing. With this increase of potential partners, vendors must work together to optimize various layers and components of the networks, address soaring levels of 5G energy consumption, and respond to climate change industry-wide.”
ABI Research’s overall assessment identified the providers with the greatest ability to scale sustainable impact across the industry. Based on this analysis, ABI Research concludes that, for now, the traditional network equipment vendors are likely to be the best positioned to help telcos improve their overall sustainability strategies and achieve climate targets. “However, the other supplier groups are increasingly contributing to the sustainability of telco networks every day and should not be underestimated, given the complexities of the sustainability challenge and the innovation needed to advance to net zero carbon emissions,” Johnson notes. The next most important grouping in the assessment is non-traditional network equipment vendors, while the third tier for reducing industry-wide carbon emissions and waste are the chipset and component vendors and software providers. One company that supersedes this classification is Intel, as an integrated device manufacturing (IDM) leader and technology provider that maintains legacy partnerships with traditional vendors and overlaps in multiple network areas.
Johnson highlights, “The companies that were identified as the most impactful industry-wide incorporate a multitude of sustainability initiatives. They employ eco-design principles, using less aluminum and other materials while making equipment lightweight, modular, and compact for simplified installation and tower sharing. The leaders are designing and making energy efficient radios and equipment with specialized silicon and integrated, intelligent, and programmable hardware and software.”
The traditional leaders, Ericsson and Nokia, also have 5G smart factories recognized as “Global Lighthouse” manufacturing facilities and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) pioneers by McKinsey and the World Economic Forum. The Ericsson USA 5G smart factory runs on 100% renewable energy with integrated environmental systems that reduce energy consumption by 24% and water use by 75%. Nokia’s 5G “factory of the future” in Oulu, Finland, leverages Nokia’s private wireless networks for secure and reliable connectivity for factory assets, IoT analytics, and a real-time digital twin of factory operations data.
“In addition to supporting sustainable manufacturing and operational practices, all the companies in the Sustainability Assessment are focused on breaking the 5G energy curve. These companies are leading the way for advancing network technologies and performance while reducing energy consumption and global carbon emissions,” Johnson concludes.