The S-Curve Indicator: Week of April 15, 2013

This week’s indicator is 90 percent, which is the percentage of wireless cloud electricity consumption that goes to network infrastructure. This finding, reported in a new study from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications, goes against stakeholder reports and stories in popular media, which often ding data centers for their energy footprints. According to the new report, this emphasis has been misplaced. “Wireless networks are the biggest threat to the sustainability of cloud services, not data centers,” the authors conclude.

In recent years, data center providers have developed a slew of metrics (e.g., power usage effectiveness, carbon usage effectives, data center maturity model, etc.) and initiatives (e.g., The Green Grid) to measure and manage energy consumption. The authors would like a similar emphasis on the efficiency of wireless access technologies, which is projected to see exponential growth in the near-term. The number of wireless cloud users is expected to grow to nearly a billion by 2014. By 2015, these users will be responsible for 30 megatons of CO2 annually – the equivalent of 5 million new cars.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability.