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How can telcos drive sustainability for their clients?

Ane-Marte Weng, Sudhir Tripathi, Dipti Kiran Bhatia
1 Apr 2022

Telcos are leveraging their tools to help their business clients meet their sustainability goals, and the results are game-changing.

Our new blog talks about some real-world examples and recommendations.

In 2021, Vodafone teamed up with a Romanian transport company on a vehicle tracking project. Together they implemented an IoT solution that’s on target to save as much as 16 million tons of CO2 emissions per year. A new trend is beginning. Read on to learn how Telco technologies are helping businesses boost their sustainability strategies.

The enablement effect

The amount of global CO2 emissions has reached a total of 53 gigatons per year. Industries like manufacturing, power, energy and utilities, transport and logistics, and buildings contribute 80% of that number.

The telco sector alone makes for 2 – 3% of total global CO2 emissions, and most major players are already implementing environment friendly solutions for themselves. Where it gets especially interesting is the ways they’re helping their clients. Internet of Things, 5G, cellular connectivity, and many other telco related technologies have massive potential when it comes to tracking and measuring – key elements of achieving sustainability.

Companies helping clients reduce their carbon footprint is known as the “enablement effect.” GSMA describes it as “mobile connectivity, associated digital infrastructure and AI improv[ing] productivity in other industries by an order of magnitude more than that of the telecoms sector directly.” In this way telcos can take a leading role in changing today’s sustainability landscape, and industries from agriculture to automotive have a chance to reinvent their carbon footprint reduction strategies. 

A digital foundation

If telcos want to develop solutions to aid industries in achieving sustainability benefits, a strong digital foundation is a must. This is especially critical in light of the 5G revolution, which will necessarily increase energy use to handle the growing volume of data (more than can be offset by greater efficiency). IoT, as we’ve seen in the Vodafone example above, can help with tracking and optimization. It can also troubleshoot and perform diagnostic control for CO2 emission for the overall supply chain. Cellular connectivity and AR/VR solutions are game changers when it comes to the decarbonization process.

Now, let’s take a look at some real-life examples.

A new approach to sustainability

SHV Energy, an off-grid energy distributor, used Orange’s help when deploying new telemetry solutions on their gas tanks in Europe and the US. Thanks to IoT devices it was possible to optimize gas delivery routes, cut carbon emissions, reduce their carbon footprint, and become much greener in the process. 

Orange has also partnered with Dacom, an agricultural yield management system provider from the Netherlands. One of the main objectives was to improve sustainable arable crop production. The telco used its solutions to create a flexible and scalable M2M communications infrastructure with a dedicated SIM card management portal. This led to increased support for sustainability targets, while achieving other goals like increased production yields and greater profits for farmers.

We are also collaborating with telcos. Our Applied Innovation Exchange (AIE) Collaboration Zone(CoZone) has created Project FARM, which helps small-scale farmers find patterns in their data to support yield optimization. Accessibility by cell phones makes it convenient for farmers on the job. “With the profits I can educate my children,” reports one Kenyan farmer in the Exchange. “I can buy a cow and build a house.”

Benefits for industries

These examples demonstrate only a small portion of what telcos can do to help their clients achieve sustainability benefits. When it comes to smart buildings for example, IoT sensors can regulate energy consumption for savings of 3–5%. For a skyscraper such as London’s famous “Gherkin” building, that’s 80 tons of CO2 saved yearly – more than five city buses worth of carbon that don’t enter the atmosphere.

In the energy and power sector, using IoT can help a lot with energy distribution and preventing wastage. Meanwhile high speed connectivity (e.g. 5G, LTE) can track operational data, reduce repair times, and lead to more efficient and sustainable turbines.

The manufacturing industry also stands to benefit from sustainable technologies implemented by telcos. For example, IoT in manufacturing sites allows the capture of environmental data and a reduction in energy costs. GSMA estimates a savings of 10–20% in energy consumption per year compared to industrial settings without connected technology.

No matter which industry you look at – there is always an opportunity to make it more sustainable and efficient with the help of digital technologies. Many organizations share a goal of reaching net zero by 2030. According to a report by GSMA, mobile and tech contributions can take companies a long way down that road: an average of 40% of the way for the top 4 sectors. Mobile and tech innovations can take manufacturing 16% of the way to net zero, power and energy 46% of the way, and buildings 53% of the way. And it can take transportation a massive 65% of the way to reaching their net zero goal.

Be the enabler

And how do telcos benefit from all of the above? First: they can sell new sets of offerings with Sustainability as a Service, mobile as a service platforms, and other similar solutions. It’s also possible to gain new revenues with an increased usage of network and data monetization. Second, collaboration on decarbonization provides a stable base for future upselling. Telcos have an opportunity to drive decarbonization in multiple industries, and the demand is only growing. Enablement gives telcos a chance to demonstrate their capabilities on a massive scale.

At Capgemini, we have an ambition to become carbon neutral for our operations by 2025, and are committed to becoming a net zero company throughout our value chain. We are also committed to helping our clients save 10 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030. Are you interested in learning more about the ways your CSP could be driving sustainability for your clients? Contact us below.

TelcoInsights is a series of posts about the latest trends and opportunities in the telecommunications industry – powered by a community of global industry experts and thought leaders.