The cable industry advocates energy reduction, not only by rapidly deploying broadband services (to enable more telecommuting), but through programs that encourage vendors and operators to curtail electricity use in their products and solutions.
Cable has come a long way since its initial steps, the 2012 Set-Top Box Voluntary Agreement (STB VA), which the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 recognized as a Top Project of the Year. Within its first four years, the program saved more than 16.8 terawatts per hour and over $2.1 billion in energy costs, reported CableLabs.
Other agreements and developments followed as vendors created technologies either specifically or partially designed to cut power consumption. Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) technologies like Remote PHY, for example, reduce space and power requirements in the head-end, wrote Jim Walsh, VIAVI Solutions Marketing Manager, in a Broadband World News article. In part, that's because "as operators add networking equipment to support the increasing node counts, rack space and power-cooling capacities at hub sites are stretched to their limits," he noted. (See As Remote PHY Nears, No Time to Spare.)
More units. More heat. More cooling. A lot more electricity use. It all adds up to bad for an operator's budget and not very good for the environment, either. Thinking green -- cash, trees or both -- is good for business and the heart (and lungs).
Customers want to lower their power usage, said Pasi Järvenpää, vice president of research and development at Teleste, a finalist in this year's Adaptive Power Challenge, sponsored by SCTE-ISBE, Liberty Global and Comcast.
"One of our main drivers has been to answer operators’ needs to increase energy-efficiency and save in operational costs through cutting down their energy bill," he told Broadband World News. "In addition to business benefits, reducing power consumption has a positive impact on the environment since it can be translated to, for example, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. As the status of the environment is one of the main concerns today globally, solutions to improve energy-efficiency are welcomed among both the operators and consumers."
Some reports claim outside plants generate between 70% and 75% of operators' energy bills, said Järvenpää. Also, although equipment must work at full power sometimes, when the technology is idle it can still sap a lot of electricity if vendors do not consider that feature in their design, he said.
"Broadband nodes and amplifiers are designed to operate at full speed, which results in maximizing their power consumption. However, in real life, the maximum data transfer capacity is rarely needed, and when it is not needed, the devices can be operated on less power without sacrificing the end-user experience. Reducing the power consumption can be achieved by adjusting bias current in the amplifier module in nodes and amplifiers," said Järvenpää. "Adjusting bias current in single amplifier module saves up to 30% of the power consumed by the amplifier module. As from 73% to 83% of the total network power consumption is created by the amplifier modules, this means that on the entire network level utilizing adaptive powering results in up to 20% reduction in the power consumption."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.