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[经济学人] [2008.12.06]Monitor:How green is your network?









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发表于 2010-4-29 03:31 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
How green is your network?

Dec 4th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Environment: Telecoms firms are reducing the power consumption of their networks, for economic and environmental reasons

Illustration by Belle Mellor

LIKE many other industries, the telecoms industry is increasingly worried about its energy consumption and the associated carbon footprint. This is not just because rising energy prices have made it more expensive to run telecoms networks; it is also because telecoms networks and devices account for nearly 1% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and the industry wants to avoid criticism from green campaigners. Unlike many other firms, however, telecoms operators find their carbon footprints quite easy to work out. That is because their footprints are dominated by one thing: running their networks.

For example, Vodafone, a giant European mobile operator, estimates that its network accounts for 80% of its carbon footprint (the remainder is attributed to its offices, shops and vehicles). And three-quarters of the network’s contribution is, in turn, associated with powering the base-stations that allow mobile phones to connect to the network.
以欧洲移动通信运营巨头Vodafone为例,估计网络产生的排放占其总碳排放量的80%(其余的则来自与办公场所、营业场所和交通)。 更进一步,网络产生的排放量中,四分之三来自于基站运行所产生,基站用以帮助移动电话链接网络。

Typically, around half of the operating expenditure of a network company goes on electricity, according to Ericsson, a leading telecoms-equipment manufacturer. The proportion tends to be higher for operators in the developing world because their base-stations may be in remote areas, and therefore require diesel-fuelled generators. So the recent spike in energy prices has prompted operators to look for ways to cut costs. “The operators are feeling it,” says Elaine Weidman, Ericsson’s director of corporate responsibility.
以顶尖电信设备制造商爱立信为例,典型上,网络公司的运营成本中,约有一半来自于电力费用。这一比例在发展中国家的运营商中往往更高,这主要是因为它们的基站可能会布置在偏远地区,因此会需要柴油发电机来提供电力。因此,最近能源价格促使运营商寻求降低成本的办法。爱立信的企业责任总监Elaine Weidman说道:“运营商正意识到这一点。”

Fortunately there are some relatively simple ways to reduce the energy consumption of a base-station. The first is to turn down the air-conditioning. Many mobile operators now run base-stations at a standard temperature of 35ºC, rather than the previous norm of 25-30ºC. Studies show that the higher temperature does not reduce the equipment’s reliability or life expectancy. “The biggest restriction is actually our technicians, who do not like going into the hut to work at 35 degrees,” says Andy MacLeod, Vodafone’s global networks director.
幸运的是,有几种相对简单的办法可以用以降低基站的能耗。首先就是关闭空调。许多移动运营商现在已将基站的工作温度恒定在35ºC,而不是之前规定的25-30ºC。研究显示,较高的温度并不会降低设备工作的稳定性或平均寿命。Vodafone的全球网络总监Andy MacLeod说道:“实际上,最大的限制来自于我们的技术人员,他们可不愿意钻进小棚屋在35度下工作。”

Operating at this temperature means ambient air can be used for cooling, even in hot countries. An air-filter is installed on one side of the cabin, and a fan is installed on the other, resulting in a steady flow of air. Vodafone plans to replace air-conditioning with this simpler approach, called “freecooling”, in the majority of its base-stations over the next three years, as part of a plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% between 2006 and 2020.

Other energy-saving tips are even simpler. In many hot countries, telecoms firms paint the exterior of base-stations white to deflect the sun. Another power-saving measure is to turn off base-stations completely when they are not busy. In densely populated areas, many base-stations are installed to boost the network’s capacity, rather than to provide essential coverage. In quiet periods when there are fewer calls to handle, such as the middle of the night, some base-stations can be turned off. A further trick is to redesign the base-station to make it more energy-efficient. A technique called “remote radio-head” involves shifting radio equipment from the cabin to the top of the mast, where it is cooled naturally.
其他的节能技巧则更加简单。在许多炎热的国家,电信公司将基站漆成白色以减少日光的影响。另一个方法则是在信道不繁忙的情况下,完全关闭基站。将大量基站安装在在人口密集地区,用以扩张网络容量,而不是用来扩大网路覆盖范围。在午夜这样没有多少电话需要处理的安静时段,一些基站就可以关闭。更进一步,可以重新设计基站使其能效更高。名为“remote radio-head”的技术就包括将信号设备从小屋中移到天线竿的顶端,在那里设备可以自然冷却。

Efforts are also under way to exploit renewable sources of energy to power telecoms networks. Leading equipment-makers such as Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks have installed hundreds of base-stations powered by solar panels, wind turbines or biofuels, mostly in parts of the developing world where there is no electricity grid. The number of renewable-powered base-stations will increase as networks expand into rural areas of the developing world. But so far they make up only a tiny proportion of the total.

There is also scope to reduce the environmental impact in another area: the handsets. Nokia, the world’s biggest handset-maker, has been looking at making mobile phones entirely from recycled materials such as plastics from drinks bottles and old tyres. Sony Ericsson, another handset-maker, recently announced a project called GreenHeart, which proposes various things the company would like to include in future devices, such as bioplastics and recycled materials, a low-power charger and online rather than paper-based user manuals.

The problem for operators is that even as they become more energy-efficient, network expansion and subscriber growth may still increase their overall carbon footprints. The Smart 2020 report, published in June by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, a partnership of technology firms and industry associations, and the Climate Group, a non-profit environmental club, predicts that global emissions from telecoms networks and handsets will more than double between 2002 and 2020 as adoption increases.
对运营商来说,问题是即使能效得到提高,但由于网络的扩展和用户的增长,它们的碳排放将进一步增长。由技术公司、工业协会和气候组织组成的合作组织——全球电子可持续发展推进协会六月发布的“The Smart 2020”报告预测道:随着全球电信网络和手机使用的增加,其产生的碳排放量将在2002到2020年间增长一倍以上。

The same problem also affects fixed-line telecoms networks, as broadband infrastructure is upgraded from copper wires to optical fibres and new equipment is installed to handle larger volumes of data. Verizon, a big American operator which is deploying a high-speed fibre network in several regions, has asked equipment-makers to build gear that requires less power. A poll carried out by Verizon found that most of its suppliers thought they would be able to reduce power consumption in new equipment by 10-15% without loss of performance. It has set a goal of 20% for equipment being installed from 2009, says Chuck Graff, Verizon’s director of network technology.
随着宽带网络基础设施从铜线升级到光缆,和处理为处理大批量数据使用新设备,同样的问题也困扰着有线电信网络。美国大型运营商Verizon正在若干区域采用高速光纤网络,其就要求制造商使用能耗低的设备。Verizon进行的招标中,其大部分的供货商认为在保证设备工作表现的情况下,可以将新设备的能耗降低10到15%。Verizon网络技术总监Chuck Graff声称自2009年起,使用设备的能耗降低目标将定在20%。

BT, Britain’s biggest fixed-line operator, has set a goal of reducing its emissions by 80% by 2020 by switching to more efficient equipment and sourcing electricity from low-carbon sources such as wind. As with cars and computers, the focus in telecoms is no longer solely on performance, but on efficiency, too.

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