Mobile operator O2 has kicked the 5G mobile hype train into high gear again, this time by predicting that the new mobile broadband tech could work alongside connected technologies, such as smart grids and autonomous vehicles, to save up to 269 megatonnes of CO2 by 2035 (in 2018 England’s total emissions were 280 mts).
The operator’s latest report – ‘A greener connected future’ (conducted in partnership with IC&CO and Cenex) – found that ultrafast 5G connectivity and the solutions it enables “will cut carbon emissions across a number of sectors“, with utilities and home energy seeing the greatest benefit.
However, the figure of 269 megatonnes, which seems rather optimistic, is based on the highest of three scenarios. On the other hand, even the operator’s lowest scenario predicts a saving of 220 megatonnes.
One other catch is that the calculations have been made on the assumption that 5G will gradually gain share over both Wi-Fi and 4G in the home broadband market, to the point where it is used by 50% of UK homes in 2035 (that’s a pretty big assumption, particularly given the roll-out of FTTP). Admittedly we might be moving on to 6G by then.
Mark Evans, O2 CEO, said:
“Ultrafast connectivity can play a significant part in rebuilding Britain whilst helping to green the economy, and at O2 we are committed to playing our part.
Our ‘Greener connected future’ report sets out a vision for how connected solutions enabled by 4G and 5G could power a green revolution over the next decade and beyond. If we invest now, there is a real opportunity for Britain to become a leading adopter of 5G and unleash the power of connected solutions to build a greener future for generations to come.”
Despite the uncertainty of O2’s forecasts, we did still find their full report to be quite interesting and we’d love it if some of their assumptions turned out to be correct, but we suspect there probably won’t be a follow-up report in 2035 to analyse that. Any such report would also need to be fully independent from mobile operators in order to avoid any vested interests getting in the way.
Meanwhile it’s worth pointing out that 5G networks are aiming to be more energy efficient (e.g. more data speed for lower power consumption) than earlier standards. For example, O2’s infrastructure partner, Ericsson, has embarked on a programme called Breaking the Energy Curve, which aims to “ensure that 5G is 10 times more efficient for energy usage than 4G” (the aim is to achieve this by 2023).