Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

A greener wireless industry

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Telecoms companies have united in another green initiative, this time with the aim of achieving a 50% reduction in the energy consumption of so-called 4th generation (or LTE) mobile wireless communication networks, and with the aim of commercialising its work by the end of 2012. The Earth (Energy Aware Radio and neTwork tecHnologies) project is based on research into ways of saving energy in mobile networks, network components and radio interfaces with the aim of laying the foundations for a new generation of energy-efficient communications equipment.

Other than that, the company press release is really rather dense (which may well account for the distinct lack of interest amongst the UK press, even on what seems to be a slow news day). Indeed, the initiative seems to have got underway some three months ago and only now has a press release been put together about it. Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson are the lead names on the initiative (as indeed the former was on a previously announced green initiative, which I blogged about here) but it also encompasses 13 other partners, including research institutes and universities, and the European standards organisation, ETSI, alongside the telecoms partners.

LTE (Long-Term Evolution) is the name for the next generation of mobile, with a wide range of frequencies deployed to allow users to watch high-definition video and receive much faster downloads on their mobile devices. An auction encompassing LTE-appropriate spectrum has just been concluded in the Netherlands, while similar is currently underway in Germany. Plans in the UK, intended to have been facilitated by Kip Meek’s independent brokerage and accepted by the government, have been derailed both by operator objections and by the loss of key chunks of the Digital Economy Bill, but may return to the agenda after the general election.

So, the new initiative is timely and very welcome – even if the EARTH programme, if not its aims, suffers from an inevitable imprecision as well as the equally inevitable strong dose of corporate puff. Similar to the last initiative, however, my gripe remains the relative lack of UK involvement. The University of Surrey is one of the consortium partners, but UK involvement seems otherwise to be minimal. Leadership on these sorts of initiatives is up for grabs and it would be a shame were the technical expertise in energy efficiency generated by such initiatives to flow largely elsewhere.

Written by Calvin

28/04/2010 at 4:07 pm

Not just a picture from my hols…

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… but also a reference not only to this week’s welcome economic news but also to the TUC’s forthcoming Going Green at Work conference, taking place on 15 March and being chaired by Prospect’s own Paul Noon.

Written by Calvin

28/01/2010 at 8:39 pm

A communications industry at least tinged with green

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A welcome to Green Touch, the communications industry’s inititiave to reflect a green agenda in the level of power consumption taken up by communications networks, launched yesterday in London.

The initiative is led by Bell Labs, the R&D unit of Alcatel-Lucent, and comprises 15 founder members drawn both from the operator community, including AT&T, China Mobile, Telefonica, Portugal Telecom and Swisscom, and research organisations. Membership is open to all and Green Touch expects to welcome other industry players. Its agenda is driven by a number of issues:

– communications networks are eating up more energy, and at a faster pace as demand rises for capacity as a result of the huge rise in digital information being uploaded and shared

– today’s networks use more energy than they need to: if left unchecked, energy usage is projected to double over the next ten years

– demands on information and communication technologies are increasing as organisations look to tackle their own carbon footprint by making more use of ICT in terms of remote working.

In contrast, Green Touch’s aim is to research new technologies capable of bringing about a 1,000-fold reduction by 2015 in the carbon emissions created by the usage of telecoms networks today – a target intended to be practical although the industry believes that a reduction of ten times even that amount is possible. The 1,000-fold reduction is equivalent to 7.8GTn of CO2, or 15% of the total world emissions predicted by 2020, according to Telefonica.

Little is yet known about the initiative, apart from its aim to reduce power consumption, and the details of the project remain somewhat vague. Overall, the approach and the aims are welcome – it will assist the environment, improve expertise both at corporate and individual levels and it will also help support jobs in the industry. All these provide reasons enough to be supportive.

Nevertheless, how far the industry is prepared to go actually to deliver in practice the laudable aims of the initiative, in terms of the R&D investment that it will require and the level of patience that may be required before that investment secures a return, is, as always, a key point. Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of Alcatel-Lucent, spoke of the initiative taking up, in cash terms, ‘tens of millions’; this is, by itself, unlikely to allow the industry to identify itself with a green future: ‘more’ is clearly likely to be required and that, in turn, given the social benefits such technologies might bring, is likely to require government involvement. The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control is one of the founder members and, while DECC has been verbally supportive, it has as yet issued nothing specific in terms of communications, still less more tangible forms of support. For a government looking to replace an economic over-reliance on the financial services industry, and with its own clear commitment to a green agenda, that is a gap which needs to be filled.

Written by Calvin

12/01/2010 at 3:30 pm

Copenhagen – your help wanted

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Owing to a mini-breakthrough at Copenhagen concerning the inclusion of the need for a ‘just transition’ in the negotiating texts, so that the transition to a green economy is properly planned with regard to jobs and skills, the TUC is asking people to let Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, know of workers’ support for the concept and requesting that he lobby hard in favour of the words ‘just transition’ being included in the final ministerial agreement.

You can find a draft e-mail to Miliband – and further information about what a just transition means, as well as the significance of the mini-breakthrough, at ToUChstone here.

Twitter users might like to use this to sign the simultaneous Twitter campaign.

Act now!

Written by Calvin

15/12/2009 at 4:36 pm

Trade union action points ahead of Copenhagen

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Environmental issues feature all too rarely on this blog, but I’ve been prompted to put fingers to keyboard today by a series of e-mails that have dropped into my inbox over the last few days and which could individually all benefit from a bit more publicity.

Firstly, Stop Climate Chaos is holding an event in London on Saturday 5 December called The Wave – a series of events including a march and rally in support of a low carbon future, starting at 10 am and culminating in a circling of the Houses of Parliament. Blue gloves are required for the latter – an action symbolic of the threat that faces the UK if climate change is not tackled and the UK comes more closely to resemble the winter temperatures appropriate to this latitude. Stop Climate Change Scotland is also holding a mirror Wave event in Glasgow.

Secondly, the European Trades Union Congress will be participating in Copenhagen in support of its view of the need for a sustainable environment. You can read – and view – more about the ETUC’s approach here. Closer to home, the TUC’s Brendan Barber spoke meaningfully on green awareness as a way out of the recession at the TUC’s Post-Crisis conference last month while Philip Pearson has a series of thoughtful posts on Copenhagen over at ToUChstone.

Thirdly, HOPE not hate are organising an online petition following the news that BNP leader Nick Griffin is to attend the summit. The HOPE not hate petition is intended to point out to Copenhagen representatives that Griffin does not represent the UK people and that Griffin’s attendance is not symptomatic of a concern for the environment but to propound the latest BNP stance that environmentalism somehow represents an ‘anti-white hate guiltfest’.

If you do nothing else in support of Copenhagen, the sight of Griffin jumping on one bandwagon – a ‘global Marxist mantra’ designed to ‘impose a one world government’ indeed – ought to be more than enough to convince you of the need to take a much closer interest in environmental issues henceforward.

Written by Calvin

03/12/2009 at 2:32 pm