It was a real pleasure to join the Wireless World Research Forum’s (WWRF) 47th meeting held at the University of Bristol today, where at the invitation of Knud Erik Souby I presented a short paper entitled “Environmental impact of digital tech: spectrum environmental efficiency“. This provided a broad introduction to the reseach agenda of the Digital Environment System Coalition (DESC) Working Group on spectrum environmental efficiency.
In essence, the paper
- emphasised the substantial amount of existing research on spectrum efficiency and energy efficiency;
- highlighted the lack of existing research on “spectrum environmental efficiency” (rather than just on energy);
- reflected on the observation that, although 5G is widely seen as being more energy efficient, the total increase in traffic (and sensors) means that 5G systems as a whole require more energy than was the case with previous wireless generations;
- emphasised the importance of future wireless generations being designed to reduce environmental harms;
- outlined aspects of the future research agenda of the working group, including:
- always taking environmental considerations (not just climate and energy) into our research practice;
- what are environmental implications of using different parts of the spectrum?
- how do different masts/antennae impact the environment?
- new ways of assessing landscape impact
- environmental implications of sensor network
- recommendations for good practices by telecom/wireless companies – and regulators
- helping develop a toolkit for the UN Partner2Connect digital coalition
- how can future wireless generations minimise environmental harms?
- links with DESC working group on satellites and outer space (with UNOOSA involvement);
- recognised the importance of listening to and understanding alternative/indigenous knowledges about the environment (and digital tech);
- noted that the WWRF is a formal partner of DESC; and
- invited members of the WWRF, and especially those from the private sector, to join DESC and contribute to our future work.