Today, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and NCTA – The Internet & Television Association announced a four-year extension of the Voluntary Agreement for Ongoing Improvement to the Energy Efficiency of Small Network Equipment, an industry initiative that has already improved the efficiency of home internet devices such as modems and routers by 20 percent.
The Small Network Equipment (SNE) Voluntary Agreement was initially adopted in 2015 to build upon the success of a similar award-winning voluntary agreement for set-top boxes endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2013. Addressing this latest extension, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said, “DOE supports efforts by industry to voluntarily improve their energy productivity. We believe in reducing regulatory burdens on American families and encouraging the adoption of voluntary industry standards.”
The extension of the voluntary agreement raises the bar for signatories by committing to meet new, more rigorous energy efficiency levels by 2020 that are on average 11 percent lower than the agreement’s current levels. "The four-year extension of the voluntary agreement demonstrates our industry's commitment to approaches that assure our customers benefit from energy efficiency measures while maintaining our ability to develop new services and equipment which they demand,” said Neal Goldberg, NCTA’s General Counsel.
Agreement signatories include the major broadband internet services providers serving 95 million U.S. households (89 percent of the market): AT&T, Cablevision, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Frontier and Verizon, as well as leading device manufacturers: Actiontec, ARRIS, D-Link, NETGEAR, Technicolor and Ubee Interactive.
A new report by independent auditor D+R International demonstrates the dramatic progress that has already been achieved under the agreement. The report finds that 99.2 percent of SNE devices purchased or sold at retail by participants in 2017 met the agreement’s energy efficiency levels, with 100 percent of signatories meeting their commitment that 90 percent of their devices would meet these levels. Notably, the report estimates that the voluntary agreement improved the overall efficiency of small network equipment by nearly 20 percent compared to typical, previously deployed devices.
The improvements in SNE efficiency have been achieved even as consumers demand increasingly robust equipment to support higher-speed services, better Wi-Fi strength and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices. When evaluating the energy efficiency of categories of SNE devices relative to average broadband speeds, D+R found a 17 percent annual improvement in the energy efficiency of access devices that integrate a broadband modem with additional functionality such as Wi-Fi routing or phone service, and a 23 percent improvement for local network equipment such as routers and network extenders.
“CTA applauds the networking technology companies and broadband service providers whose achievements under this voluntary agreement continue to meet the challenge of advancing energy efficiency in a dynamic product category,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy, CTA. "Networking devices, and connected devices in general, have been a focus of the energy efficiency community globally. Voluntary agreements such as this one are a great way to deliver on our energy savings and carbon emissions goals while protecting innovation and competition. Across the board, tech devices are becoming more energy efficient as our industry innovates products, services and systems that cut consumers’ costs and energy use.”
A recent CTA study found that while the number of consumer tech products in our homes is increasing, their share of our total energy use is steadily shrinking. Today, U.S. households' tech devices consume 25 percent less energy than they did in 2010. Investments in lightweight materials and energy efficient technologies, as well as the convergence of multi-function devices and continuous innovation, have helped the industry reduce its impact on the environment.
“The signatories of this voluntary agreement have increased broadband speeds by nearly 60 percent from 2015 to 2017 while making the devices that deliver those services more energy efficient,” said Debbie Fitzgerald, Director of the Energy Efficiency Program at CableLabs. “This remarkable achievement highlights the effectiveness of the voluntary agreement in enabling us to continue developing breakthrough innovations for consumers.”
The SNE Voluntary Agreement was modeled on the highly successful and award-winning agreement for set-top boxes, which also recently received a four-year extension. More information about both of these voluntary agreements and industry efforts is available at www.energy-efficiency.us.